Interieur 2014: Interieur president Lowie Vermeersch and curator Joseph Grima explain why they took a "research-driven" approach to Biennale Interieur 2014 in this movie produced by Dezeen for the fair.
Biennale Interieur 2014, which runs until 26 October, is presenting a wide variety of brands at Kortrijk Xpo and smaller venues throughout the Belgian city, alongside installations and exhibitions curated by architecture critic Joseph Grima and research collaborative Space Caviar.
"There are 100,000 people coming here and we really want them to have a unique experience," says Vermeersh. "We decided this year should be a Biennale that's research driven, and that's why we invited Joseph Grima to curate the cultural programme."
Grima's curation includes two large exhibitions exploring the changing nature of the home over the years under the provocative tagline "The Home Does Not Exist."
"We wanted to look at the idea of the home not as a place of intimacy, but more as a space where a series of forces - economic, cultural, technological - converge," explains Grima.
He believes he was appointed as curator for this year's biennale because the fair wants to attract a new, more critically-aware audience as well as its traditionally commercial one.
"I think this is an incredibly bold and desperately needed approach," he says.
At Kortrijk Xpo Grima has created a large oblong structure out of modular shelving units, which visitors can walk through and discover exhibits including domestic images pulled from social media sites and statistical representations of the economics of the home displayed in neon lights.
"The installation is called SQM, as in 'square metre,'" says Grima. "The ambition of this big structure is to be almost like a spaceship that travels speculatively into the future and into the past and explores parallel dimensions of domesticity."
As part of the city programme Grima took over a former school, soon to be demolished, for an exhibition called The Quantified Home.
"Because it's about to be torn down, we used materials that we found at the school [to create architectural interventions]," Grima explains. "We took down bicycle sheds, for example, transforming them into a staircase to access the main building. And then knocked down certain parts of the walls to create a meandering path."
Facts and quotes about the home are stencilled on the walls throughout the building for visitors to discover as they make their way through it.
"The building becomes the canvass of this exhibition," Grima says. "All of these historical facts tell incredibly eloquently the story of the home over the past 150 years."
At the end of the exhibition, robotic Roomba vacuum cleaners perform a "ballet" in the school's old gymnasium.
"[The exhibition] ends with a slightly lighter moment," says Grima. "These domestic robots are increasingly infiltrating our homes and we asked them to dance for us."
Besides Grima's exhibition, other cultural highlights at the Biennale's city programme include a light installation by Glithero in the Bloem Museum and a nightly performance by local electro rock band Goose, in which each band member performs on different floors of a tower.
"Coming to Interieur is not just a day visit, but it is at least 24, 48 hours being one continuous experience," says Vermeersch. "It's looking at things, picking up a performance, discussing, meeting, going on into the night and hopefully leaving with a different or deeper insight into what design means for you."
Biennale Interieur 2014 takes place in Kortrijk, Belgium, from 17 to 26 October.