New York Textile Month: Exhibition The Gift to be Simple
138 Wooster Street, New York, NY
October 02 – 10, 2022
Belgium Is Design is pleased to launch THE GIFT TO BE SIMPLE, a contemporary design exhibition curated by Lidewij Edelkoort and Philip Fimmano as part of the 7th annual New York Textile Month. Aimed at attracting interior architects and designers as well as a general audience, the textiles, furniture and objects on display embody an innate sense of simplicity, quality and originality. Through the textile-based works of 9 talented women, the show investigates the straightforwardness of Belgian design and how it correlates to a more sober aesthetic today: discovering excellence in everyday items. This ethos is amplified by purist furniture from the manufacturer Atmosphère & Bois Home, partly fabricated from reclaimed woods. As a trend forecaster, Edelkoort has been observing the emergence of paired-back design for several years, noting that “In chaotic and fearful times, humanity will naturally look for answers and find solace in simplicity. People are trying to make the ordinary extraordinary.” Additionally, with many people relocating to rural regions during the pandemic, a more rustic approach is also impacting interiors, fashion and lifestyle. Therefore, upholstered furniture, tapestries and household items such as dish cloths, table linens, towelling and indulgent bedding formulate a trend towards more textiles and emotional tactility within the new home. The honesty of natural materials is expressed by a new generation of Belgian designers, such as in an intriguing wild fibre rug by Emma Cogné or humble paper strips that are woven into wall hangings by Alexia de Ville de Goyet. Geneviève Levivier also expresses a connection to the essence of nature, mixed with poetry and prose, via lace-like felts and delicate sculptural works. The pertinence of still lifes today is also represented in the show, evident in the archetypical design of Pascale Risbourg or the unbridled fantasy of soft curiosities and crafted rugs by Natalia Brilli. The muted palettes that Belgium is so renowned for permeate the installation, including the sensitive hues in panels and rugs by Céline Vahsen. Wellness forms part of our daily lives, such as in the ritual of cleaning, captured in woven bath products by Vanessa Colignon. Meanwhile, handcraft techniques inspire Charlotte Lancelot, such as in her linen bed quilts or a neutral knotted rug for Gan Rugs. Similar in approach is a round rug by Laure Kasiers: beautifully modest, like a brown paper package tied up with string. These are a few of our favourite things…
NATALI BRILLI worked for more than 20 years in the world of fashion with her own label as well as a set designer for theatre and cinema. She is now starting a new chapter for her brand, creating objects sheathed in recycled leather, tapestries and raffia objects, ceramics and furniture. Since the beginning, her approach has been constant: oscillating between surrealist and symbolic influences, the designer proceeds daily, in the form of a cabinet of curiosities, to collect objects defined in turn as talismans or fetishes. These gris-gris, good luck charms or simply relics embody a sacred dimension and help define a universe where everything is humanised by use. “I try to give nobility to the simplest things, to transform these everyday objects into luxurious and rare objects, to make them true hybrids between crafts, sculptures and installations.” Natalia Brilli’s approach is in keeping with the quality requirements and craftsmanship that are dear to her. Through her formal vocabulary, she attempts to offer a contemporary version of vanity in minimal form, thus provoking a memento mori as disturbing as it is seductive. The tapestries and raffia objects are made in a family workshop in Madagascar. Natalia Brilli then works on the pieces to sheath them. All the leathers come from the dormant stocks of French and Italian luxury tanneries, which is why most of the creations are limited and numbered editions. For the furniture, the designer collaborates with Belgian cabinet makers.
Designer and artist EMMA COGNE graduated from the textile design department of La Cambre in Brussels. Her body of work finds its process in the revaluation and transformation of craft techniques and used materials to highlight their intrinsic value. The textile medium is for her a means to widen the sensorial qualities that are specific to spatiality while engaging the personal experience of users. By showing our houses’ bare structures and layers, she reveals the unique aspects of matter and color, claiming a bond with her everyday built environment. Her work gives rise to textile pieces of furniture and site-specific art installations that create transitions between the inside and the outside and echo what builds our intimacy needs. Clareira is a rug created in the Museum of Popular Art in Lisbon. It was born from a collaboration between designer Mariana Campos and Portuguese weaving craftswoman, Ana Paula Abrunhosa. It is made of reed, the “Stipa Gigantea“, a natural fiber from the Beselga area located in the northeast of Portugal. Clareira creates a space of intimacy, as an invitation to relax in the context of a shared environment. Its name, “clearing”, refers to the idea of openness and light. The team used a braiding technique, called “Ponto“, traditionally made by women, to weave a dense and solid weft. The three circles merge into a sensual shape that protects and embraces the body. Around this shape, the fibers emerge in their raw form. They draw soft and sensory borders while creating personal proximity with the user.
DESIGN FOR RESILIENCE is a textile research studio for sustainable living. Since 2009, Vanessa Colignon has set herself a goal: to transform the textile industry to make it more sustainable. She studied fashion and textile design combined with training in agroecology and naturalism. To meet her requirements, she embarked on textile research by placing the work of natural materials at the heart of her project. In 2019 she launched Design for resilience with a very first flagship product: the resilient sponge. Today, the brand offers more than 12 textile products for domestic use. As a pioneer in the creation of completely biodegradable everyday objects, Design for resilience would like to enable everyone to protect their health and reduce their environmental and social footprint via the creation of natural, resistant objects, products with respect for workers and living things. The studio works with two naturally eco-responsible materials: linen and hemp. They are declined in knitted textile products for cleaning, body care and bulk bags. Hemp is naturally anti-bacterial and gently scrubs. The resilient sponge is a range of natural, washable and compostable sponges for dishes and cleaning. Linen is naturally hypoallergenic which makes it perfectly suited to sensitive skin. It is a high absorbant and soft material you can use to clean or dry your skin. Labels, threads and fabrics are fully biodegradable. Ethically and eco-responsibly made in Belgium.
Textile designer by training, LAURE KASIERS creates and manufactures carpets and other textile objects in her studio in Brussels. Thanks to her unconventional and artisanal technique, she creates shapes and patterns that are often organic, as if they came from nature, from a microscope or an aerial view, opening our imagination. Laure Kasiers offers a constantly growing collection of models, always unique and available for individuals or professionals. Eco-responsible and local, the production is made in Belgium from yarns spun in Europe. The simple linear structure of SHADES is enlivened by the vibration of the shading that subtly interferes with it. The mix of different linen yarns creates textures that play with the light, producing a piece that is both soft and sophisticated. The vibrant pattern appearing in the SLOW series comes from the material itself in the structure of its manufacture and evokes a movement. Here, the combination of bleached and unbleached linen with small silver accents creates an almost tone-on-tone ensemble that beautifully reveals its design in the light. Linen is a natural and ecological material. It is locally produced, requires little water to grow, and undergoes very light chemical treatments. Linen also has practical advantages: it is a good acoustic insulator, dustproof and regulates the temperature and humidity of its environment.
Behind bright objects prevails a designer’s vision led by profound considerations of ethics, ecology and social engagement. CHARLOTTE LANCELOT holds a degree in industrial design but navigates fluently between neighbouring disciplines like illustration, interior architecture and product design. Over the last years, her output has materialised primarily in textile design, a domain she cherishes for its potential to create a narrative, intimate and universal environments. For 10 years, she has revisited Indian handicrafts with Gan through many different collections. More recently, she has explored the quilt and Jacquard technique with Case for a collection of bedspreads inspired by the ripples found on the sand. CHADDAR is a collection of rugs, poufs and cushions designed by Charlotte Lancelot for the Spanish brand Gan and handmade in India. Its purposeful monochrome and oversized design bring out the irreplaceable value of handwork and the perpetual reinvention of the ancient art of embroidery. Sublimely, the natural wool colors selected for the range are undyed to reduce the impact of dyeing.
GENEVIEVE LEVIVIER‘s approach combines the sensibilities of a contemporary visual artist with personal innovative technologies, evidenced by her laboratory-like studio A+ZDesign® after having created for 10 years the most refined and surprising textiles for the most prestigious fashion houses – Dior, Alaïa, Gaultier, Balenciaga. By mixing artistic gesture, organic materials and bio-sourced fibres, Levivier defends a creation freely inspired by a mix of textile know-how and pictorial techniques. Through meandering alchemy of sustainable materials and slow processes of creation, she creates openworks textile and projected shadows which together evoke a play of light and natural elements, offering an unending contemplative vision, referring to the intrinsic link between Man and Nature. Magic Lace is an acoustic lace & digital creation. It is the result of several years of development in Digital Craft within a slow inhouse design process where the laser is used by the artist as a creating tool, like a paintbrush. Moreover, this refined development, adorned with sustainable and resistant textiles – European jute, Texel wool and PLA – has insulating qualities. No waste, glue, or colorant are used in the production: the laser process plays the role of agglomerating the textile composite as well as the aesthetic final aspect. Magic Lace remains delicate with its contemporary and unique tone-on-tone patterns. As such, Geneviève Levivier’s work reinterprets the symbols of tapestry, embroidery or lace, with a sense of surprise, poetry and sensuality of the natural materials.
PASCALE RISBOURG is a textile designer at heart. She now works mainly on wallpaper and rugs. Her terracottas are a 3D version of the patterns she designs. Indeed, she imagines singular creations with an assumed audacity that borrow from nature and diverse artistic movements, their subjects and motifs magnified by a remarkable work of research. With her designs, she reinvents tapestry: lush vegetation, graphic forms, Art Deco motifs, dreamlike worlds… Whether she is working on bespoke wallpaper, hand-tufted carpets or artistic ceramics, the textile designer always offers exceptional pieces designed through a creative and intuitive process. Pascale Risbourg belongs to this generation of designers, curious and connected, who continue to develop a plural and open-ended artistic language.
Launched in 2014, TENUE DE VILLE is a creative studio and a high-end brand of wallpapers, created by the artist ALEXIA DE VILLE DE GOYET. Curiosity and passion are the keywords driving the creative approach at Tenue de Ville. Each design is the conclusion of a long artistic research, a history of intern collaboration, and a new perspective for your interior, hand drawn by Alexia and her team. Tenue de Ville’s production is always part of a local and environmental approach. All products are made in Belgium, using waterbased inks, and FSC certified papers. Born from the desire to recycle the waste created for her wallpaper collections, Alexia de Ville started to collect her production scraps and sought a way to reuse them around a project that made sense and met her deep ecological values. She then started to assemble these strips of wallpaper in the form of weavings. These strips were sometimes tinted with natural pigments or used as such. Working these paper weavings as in textile, patterns appear thanks to the rhythms of weavings and the colors of the strips. Handmade in Belgium, the result offers unique tapestries, to frame or hang, generally in soft tones and sober design.
A fabric is never empty, it contains story and storytelling. CELINE VAHSEN is interested in the cultural dimension of textiles, by their emotion. The textile medium consists of infinite possibilities for expression; thanks to techniques rooted in the history of design, linked to regional communities, combined with know-how enriched by long-term exchange via trade routes and transmitted by using the hand as a tool. She uses methods of hybrid cultures by integrating them with a personal approach. Her compositions of traditional methods, open up textile craftsmanship towards contemporary art.