We conclude our interview series with the emerging talent that renown Belgian designers have shed light on with Sylvain Willenz’s nominee. His nomination and that of other established Belgian designers – Marina Bautier, Xavier Lust, Jean-Francois d’Or and Muller Van Severen – forms part of our September edition’s design special.
How would you describe what you do?
It’s hard to put in words. My approach varies depending on the context. But generally I want my creations to be simple, intelligent, unpretentious and functional. And I experiment a lot. For the moment I do my personal work, such as the rainbow shades and cap hooks, which will soon be produced by Hem, but I also work as an assistant for Alain Berteau and I’m in charge of photography for Objekten.
As a designer working in Belgium today, what do you think is your main purpose?
Design is not only about aesthetics. I don’t just want to make beautiful things. It is linked to so many other aspects, such as business, strategies, branding … As a designer, you’re somewhat of an orchestra conductor, and you can use your position to create employment and boost a certain business, as we are trying to do with AVB for instance, a 30 year old brand in Seraing, Liège. I’m assisting Alain with the relaunch of it, and it encompasses everything from photography and communication to optimizing old designs and designing new collections. The goal is to give the brand a new vision, keep the jobs and create new ones.
What key moment or person would you attribute to you becoming a designer?
I think my love for making things stems from my childhood, when I was constantly helping my dad with the construction of the house. I remember working with him from eight in the morning till nine in the evening for entire weekends.
To date, what creation are you the proudest of and why?
It can be a bit frustrating as a young designer, because you are always waiting for someone to trust you and produce your work. It has been quite a long process for me, and that’s why I’m especially proud of two projects: The rainbow shades and the cap hooks. The rainbow shades is the first project I actually made money with. I launched the production all by myself and created an online shop. Over the course of two years I’ve built, packed, sent and sold more than 300 units. I got the idea for the cap hooks when I saw standard pipe ending caps in a factory and last year I finally took three weeks to develop the project and launched a limited production on my website. I only sold one, as the price was a bit too high, but I was convinced that it was a good product and proposed it to Hem. They liked the idea and are currently producing thousands of pieces for a whole collection based on the ending caps. I’m quite proud of it because it’s qualitative, simple, timeless, efficient in terms of production, and will probably sell well because it is also affordable.
Julien (30) studied at ESAD in Reims and at ECAL Lausanne until 2009.