Biennale Interieur is one of the world's longest-running design events. This year's edition, running from 18 to 22 October, marks its 50th anniversary.
As a result, curator Dieter Van den Strom has decided to place renewed focus on the original aims of the show – to challenge tradition and showcase innovative contemporary design. His theme is "We design to change and to object".
"In a rapidly changing world, Biennale Interieur wants to be a platform where meaningful ideas are given a concrete form," said Van den Strom.
Young and emerging designers have been invited to showcase work in the circulation spaces of the biennial's main Kortrijk Xpo venue. The space, designed by young Rotterdam architecture firm Studio Verter, will feature installations by the likes of Belgium's Conrad Willems and the UK's Adam Nathaniel Furman.
The biennial will also take over a disused hospital in the city, with a variety of rooms occupied by different designers and a focus on showcasing young and independent talent.
Here's our guide to five of the most promising young talents exhibiting:
Pierre-Emmanuel Vandeputte creates furniture that blends the surreal with the practical, using what he described as "noble materials" like wood, felt and cork to create something familiar but unexpected. He graduated from the industrial design masters program at La-Cambre in Brussels, one of Belgium's most respected design schools, in 2014, and founded his studio at MAD, a collective "creative hub" and art and design incubator space, the following year.
Among his best work is a series of sound insulating projects, including a cork helmet on a pulley designed to protect the wearer from noise pollution, which he showed in Milan as part of the Belgian Village exhibition in Ventura Lambrate in 2015, and the Diplomate desk divider, which uses the natural curve of felt to create a small storage space in the structure of the piece. His minimal Pausa stool series, with narrow seats designed for perching, is currently produced as part of the Filantropie collection by Recyclart Fabrik, which trains people who are re-entering the workplace in craft and manufacturing skills.
Vandeputte's backrest design Paradosso will be part of the Interieur Awards exhibition.
Nathalie Van der Massen
Nathalie Van der Massen's textile designs focus on the idea of the material as part of the living space or architectural environment, contributing to the spatial and acoustic experience. Her work explores the combination of natural materials, craft and industrial manufacturing techniques, often playing with layering and transparency.
Van der Massen initially studied graphic design at Sint Lucas in Antwerp, before moving to Ghent to pursue textile design. She was selected for a residency at the Textile Museum in Tilburg in the Netherlands before graduating. She went on to work with some of Belgium's leading fashion designers before establishing her own studio in Antwerp in 2018, where she also works as a freelance art director.
Her work will be shown at Interieur as part of The New Masters exhibition curated by branding agency DIFT for To Object.
Still in his 20s, Sep Verboom is the founder of Livable, a company that focuses on developing methods of making with interesting materials through collaboration. His work brings together regional crafts and craftspeople from around the world – including the Philippines, Indonesia and Brazil – and European industrial design and manufacturing to create furniture, textiles and lighting out of waste.
Verboom developed this way of working while still a student, after spending some time in the Philippines, where he developed his first successful designs – a collection of hanging lamps made from hand-woven rattan and cage-like fan safety covers. He was awarded the prestigious Henry Van De Velde Young Talent Award in 2017, with the jury describing him as "a child of his generation: idealistic, but grounded".
Verboom will be creating an installation inside the hospital for To Object.
Rapidly becoming an established name in the graphic design world, with a string of accolades under her belt, Lauren Grusenmeyer founded her independent studio in Brussels in 2016 following a long collaboration with fellow designer Ines Cox, which saw the duo's work named as one of the Best Dutch Book Designs in 2010.
A regular contributor to exhibitions and art events around Belgium, her recent projects include graphics for exhibitions at Bozar Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, the identity for the I Buy Belgian campaign across Flanders, and the exhibition design and accompanying book for the Europalia exhibition Power & Other Things, Indonesia & Art 1835 to Now. She also teaches graphic design at Sint Lucas in Antwerp and is co-founder of a research platform exploring the crossover between different disciplines called The Hybrid Designer.
She will also be part of The New Masters exhibition at Biennale Interieur.
BedrossianServaes is a studio led by textile designer Ani Bedrossian and product designer Flavien Servaes. The duo starting working together in 2017 after both graduating from La Cambre, although Servaes also works in the studio of Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen.
They create research-driven, experimental textiles and objects. Examples included a series of door handles designed for Belgian company Vervloet based on the idea of creating an edge that appears as thin as paper, an organic, abstract 12-colour carpet for the BRAFA Art Fair and A Traverser, a series of woven textiles where looser sections are created in the weave to allow different openings to be cut into them.
A Traverser will be shown in Kortrijk as part of the Interieur Awards exhibition.