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Preview / COLLECTIBLE 2022

Five unmissable works at this year's Brussels fair for contemporary collectible design.

Vanderborght Building, Brussels
20th-22nd May 2022

By Charlotte Abrahams / 17th May 2022
Xanthe Somers with ‘Like Sour Milk on a Hot Day’, 2022 & ‘Like Stale Bread After a Hard Day’s Work’ 2022 COURTESY: Xanthe Somers & Galerie Revel / PHOTOGRAPH: Deniz Güzel

Xanthe Somers with ‘Like Sour Milk on a Hot Day’, 2022 & ‘Like Stale Bread After a Hard Day’s Work’ 2022
COURTESY: Xanthe Somers & Galerie Revel / PHOTOGRAPH: Deniz Güzel

FROM 20th-22nd MAY, the great, the good and the groundbreaking of the collectible design world will be found inside the modernist walls of the Brussels Vanderborght Building for the fifth edition of COLLECTIBLE. Focused on unique pieces, bespoke commissions or limited editions that, in co-founder Liv Vaisberg’s words, “push the market proactively rather than react,” the fair has become a global highlight of the collectible design calendar.

Heim + Viladrich Office, ‘Open Dressing’, 2021 COURTESY: Heim + Viladrich Office

Heim + Viladrich Office, ‘Open Dressing’, 2021
COURTESY: Heim + Viladrich Office

This year’s edition is made up of five different sections – Main, Bespoke, The Editors, Escapism, and Tension! – each with a slightly different focus. But all promise a bumper crop of works, many of which have never been shown before. Here are our top five debuts, each one a celebration of a different material.

Anton Hendrik Denys, ‘Foam Catcher’, 2021 COURTESY: Anton Hendrik Denys / PHOTOGRAPH: Alexander Popelier

Anton Hendrik Denys, ‘Foam Catcher’, 2021
COURTESY: Anton Hendrik Denys / PHOTOGRAPH: Alexander Popelier

The Design Edit’s top five picks:

Vadim Kibardin, ‘Black Mirror Coiffeuse Table and Chair’, 2022 at Mia Karlova Galerie.
Discarded cardboard and paper have been transformed into an opulent, two-piece furniture collection titled ‘Black Mirror’ by Vadim Kibardin. The coiffeuse table and accompanying chair are the latest iteration of this Prague-based designer’s signature ‘Black Paper’ collection and represent a shift in Kibardin’s focus of research from the inherent qualities of cardboard as material, to the exploration of its multi-functionality and aesthetics. With its many work surfaces, shelves, hangers, mirrors (both ordinary and magnifying), and range of possible lighting scenarios, the coiffeuse is the ultimate in utility, while the organic structural forms of both table and chair come straight from the pages of a Gothic fairy tale. “Rational and emotional worlds collide,” says his gallerist Mia Karlova, “to give birth to a burst of energy encapsulated in one artistic functional object.”

Vadim Kibardin ‘Black Mirror Collection’, 2022 COURTESY: Vadim Kibardin & Mia Karlova Galerie / PHOTOGRAPH: Jeroen van der Spek 7

Vadim Kibardin ‘Black Mirror Collection’, 2022
COURTESY: Vadim Kibardin & Mia Karlova Galerie / PHOTOGRAPH: Jeroen van der Spek 7

Anton Hendrik Denys, ‘Foam Catcher Ceiling Light no.1’, 2021; ‘Foam Catcher Ceiling Light no.2’, 2021; ‘Foam Catcher Wall Light no.1’, 2021
Belgian designer Anton Hendrik Denys has been investigating the possibilities of coated foam structures for some time. A trio of textural, burnt orange light sculptures he calls ‘Foam Catchers’ are the latest results. Inspired by handmade baskets, these intriguing pieces explore the three-dimensionality of his earlier graphic foam grids, ‘Foam Fences’. “Having mastered this self-developed technique through the years, I took time during the pandemic to further explore its volumetric potential,” Denys explains. “Foam Catchers take my craft into new realms to properly catch the light. The material’s rigidness resulted in undefinable shapes that land somewhere between a beam and a cylinder.”

Anton Hendrik Denys, ‘Foam Catcher’, 2021 COURTESY: Anton Hendrik Denys / PHOTOGRAPH: Alexander Popelier

Anton Hendrik Denys, ‘Foam Catcher’, 2021
COURTESY: Anton Hendrik Denys / PHOTOGRAPH: Alexander Popelier

Xanthe Somers, ‘Like Sour Milk on a Hot Day’, 2022; ‘Like Stale Bread after a Hard Day’s Work’, 2022 at Galerie REVEL.
Clay is the material of choice for Zimbabwean artist Xanthe Somers, making not only her first appearance at COLLECTIBLE Brussels, but her European debut too. Her two exuberant, large-scale vases, ‘Like Sour Milk on a Hot Day’ and ‘Like Stale Bread after a Hard Day’s Work’, are the result of a slow, self-taught process of hand building, smoothing and painting, followed by multiple firings in the kiln. Somers’s practice is rooted in her experience of growing up in a postcolonial culture and she is fascinated by the way narratives about politics, resources, cultures and their motivations are held in everyday objects. With these latest pieces, she says she is examining “how my ideas around refinement, value and beauty have been instilled in me by oppressive colonial narratives, and my own efforts to try and challenge these ideas.”

Xanthe Somers with ‘Like Sour Milk on a Hot Day’, 2022 & ‘Like Stale Bread After a Hard Day’s Work’ 2022 COURTESY: Xanthe Somers & Galerie Revel / PHOTOGRAPH: Deniz Güzel

Xanthe Somers with ‘Like Sour Milk on a Hot Day’, 2022 & ‘Like Stale Bread After a Hard Day’s Work’ 2022
COURTESY: Xanthe Somers & Galerie Revel / PHOTOGRAPH: Deniz Güzel

Heim + Viladrich Office (Rotterdam), ‘Open Dressing’, 2021
Aluminium and mirror combine in ‘Open Dressing’, the first in a collection of new collaborative pieces by Netherlands based designers Lauriane Heim and Johan Viladrich. Both Heim and Viladrich value a frugal approach to form, material and production, and are concerned with creating work that roots a rational aspect of design within a sculptural work of art. Utterly simple in form (it comprises two solid elements connected by a platform that extends the lines of the bench and the mirror to create a space that unifies both), ‘Open Dressing’ is a gleaming, reflective articulation of that approach.

Heim + Viladrich Office, ‘Open Dressing’, 2021 COURTESY: Heim + Viladrich Office

Heim + Viladrich Office, ‘Open Dressing’, 2021
COURTESY: Heim + Viladrich Office

Pauline Esparon, ‘Pellis Lamp’, 2020
French designer Pauline Esparon’s work begins with the material she is using. In the case of the ‘Pellis Lamp’ she is unveiling at COLLECTIBLE Brussels, that material is parchment. “There are only ten parchment makers in the world today,” she says. “The Pellis Collection [of which this lamp is part] aims to stimulate the craft by exploring new possible shapes and tensions with the material, while highlighting its animal origin.” The fact that this exquisite, ethereal lamp is made from skin cannot be ignored. Esparon gives it full expression in the making process, allowing it to bend and curve naturally as it dries, and then uses light to reveal the unique scars and patterns each piece is marked with. “The light projects the being behind the surface and the inner poetry of a temporary life fixed forever,” she says.

Pauline Esparon, ‘Pellis Lamp’, 2020 COURTESY: Pauline Esparon / PHOTOGRAPH: Stéphane Ruchaud

Pauline Esparon, ‘Pellis Lamp’, 2020
COURTESY: Pauline Esparon / PHOTOGRAPH: Stéphane Ruchaud

COLLECTIBLE

Vadim Kibardin, ‘Black Mirror Coiffeuse Table and Chair’, 2022. POA.

Anton Hendrik Denys, ‘Foam Catcher Ceiling Lights’, 2021. Edition of 8+4 AP. POA.

Xanthe Somers, ‘Like Sour Milk on a Hot Day’, 2022; ‘Like Stale Bread after a Hard Day’s Work’, 2022. POA

Heim + Viladrich Office, ‘Open Dressing’, 2021. POA.

Pauline Esparon, ‘Pellis Lamp’, 2019. POA.

Article by Charlotte Abrahams
Article by Charlotte Abrahams
Charlotte Abrahams is a writer and curator specialising in design and the applied arts. She trained at Central St Martin’s and since then has written regularly for the national and international press. Her latest book, Love Pattern & Colour (Frances Lincoln) is out now. View all articles by Charlotte Abrahams