This September Brussels becomes the booming hub for all things Belgian design, and as part of this year’s framework, Design September is launching #ikkoopbelgisch/#jachetebelge for the very first time. Set to be a highlighting opportunity for the country’s blossoming stars of the country’s design scene to showcase their strongest work in various shop windows across downtown Brussels. To help you get to grips with the unlimited talent on show between 6th and 30th September, we’ve gathered together three of the brightest young things that would be foolish to miss.
Eloise Maes (1992) and Audrey Werthle (1991) make up the Brussels-based duo La Gadoue, with ambitions of fighting the constant abstractions that come from living in a digitalized world. While their backgrounds consist of textile and product design, their need to keep their hands busy aids the duo in creating new, intuitive and functional product designs.
At its core, what is your work about? How would you describe it?
Our work is based on a very intense practice. We use various mediums, ranging from ceramics and concrete to textiles. We constantly experiment with these materials and rethink the ways they can be used in combination with each other. We often find ourselves tugging the borders between design, craft and art.
What is its starting point and statement?
Our intention is to bring back materiality to this digital world of ours. We aim to create objects with a high material and emotional value so that they can exist independently from ephemeral trends.
What characterises your work?
The materiality, the form and function are deeply connected because of the materials we work with. We have a real passion for colour, so we make sure that the right shades and textures go into our production. Moreover, we contrast very organic shapes with more geometrical ones and bring light to the interplay between them.
Can you talk to us about your approach in general?
The way we work depends on the project, whether it’s custom-made or self-initiated, but there’s always a long phase of experiment before getting to the end result.
For the first time, Design September will take place in the public space of the city centre. How will you adapt the selection process of your work now it will be showcased in a shop front?
After discussing it with Sophie, the owner of Mofelito Paperito, we decided that we want to present our work in a very simple manner, as if the pieces were on a table ready to be used. The beauty of the objects should not make them feel like art pieces; we want them to be accessible.
How has the atmosphere of the city you live in influenced your work or inspired you in a certain way?
We’re lucky to have found the right place to work in Brussels. Our workshop is located in Studio CityGate in Anderlecht, a huge and crazy building. It’s a former chemical factory, so next to our atelier there’s plenty of free space for creativity, like performance art and videos of our work as well as for meeting and exchanging with other members of the studio, like photographers, painters and woodworkers.
Do you feel Brussels is an inspiring city to live/work in as a designer? If so, what inspires you the most?
We find inspiration in the unfinished side of Brussels, where construction and destruction are on their path; where we’re taken by the feeling that things are possible.
This year’s edition will be marked by the latest trends in Belgian and international design. What do you think are the most significant trends in Belgian design, and how has the design scene changed?
We haven’t been in Belgium long enough to be able to talk trends and their evolution. On one hand we see that “collectible” designs are gaining visibility, and on the other, that the need to be eco-responsible is gaining traction.
How do you see yourself fit into the country’s design scene? What makes your work stand out?
We feel very free in our work because of the multidisciplinary approach to our work.
Do you feel Belgium as a country does enough to support upcoming designers? How could it improve?
We see that there’s a lot of effort being put in by young designers from Flanders DC and the MAD, however the fact that they are seperate entities does make things difficult. We believe that more coordination and synergy between the two would inspire improvement in the scene.
Which Belgian (design) brand or artist do you follow or look to for inspiration? This can be either from the past or the present
We sometimes work as assistants for KRJST Studio. We’re fond of the way they use textile weaving and technology to interpret their creative universe. They managed to find their own way between fashion, design and contemporary art, which is commendable.
How does your work relate to the ideas of the shop with which you have been paired for this project?
Mofelito Paperito has a very refined and original selection of stationery and paper items. Although we make different objects, they connect well in terms of refinement, colours and textures. We also find that writing and ceramic making have the same slow rhythm.
On a more personal note, how does your everyday inform your work?
We make objects that are beautiful and useful. Our projects start a lot from our own needs and desires: “I would like to have this object, could I produce it myself?” We try to be eco-responsible, as in to consume less and more efficiently. For example, we designed Percolo, a porcelain coffee filter with a reusable linen filter that works very simply. It’s a beautiful object to look at and it is also efficient for everyday usage.
What does success look like to you?
Success to us would be consistently taking part in new opportunities and challenging projects.
Finally, what series and/or project are you currently working on?
We’re currently producing a full tableware collection for the restaurant Holy Bagels. Our crafted plates will enhance their crafted food. Along with that, we’re developing our zero waste ceramic coffee filters.Catch La Gadoue as part of #ikkoopbelgisch/#jachetebelge at Mofelito Paperito. lagadoueatelier.com