Ann Demeulemeester’s first foray into homeware ‘returns to the essence of things’
The Belgian fashion designer collaborates with Serax for a collection launching at Maison et Objet this week
‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever,’ Ann Demeulemeester replies when addressing the question of how the objects we choose to surround ourselves with – whether it’s a top or a teacup – impact our lives. The famous Oscar Wilde quote holds true for the Belgian fashion designer with her enduring broody aesthetic, a member of the Antwerp Six cohort, who departed from her namesake brand’s helm in 2014.
It was a life overhaul of sorts. In an effort to close that creative chapter of her life, she moved away from her Antwerp home – Maison Guiette, the house where her son Victor now lives and the only Le Corbusier structure left in Belgium – and into a 19th century country house with a floral park and a vegetable garden located on the outskirts of the province of Antwerp.
‘I wanted to return to the essence of things’, she explains. ‘Nature, growing my own vegetables. Make beautiful objects in which to present them.’ This impulse translated itself into a collection of homewares – porcelain plates and cutlery, glassware – produced with the Belgian company Serax, which will be presented in September at Maison et Objet in Paris.
Demeulemeester turned to the classical elements of earth, water and fire, to ‘experiment with one of the oldest forms of creation.’ The designer had always dreamed of using porcelain and glass as a creative language, and the three-dimensional aspect of sculpting clay was a natural continuation of her very personal creative hunger.
The idea to conceive of homeware lines with Serax took shape after a mutual friend introduced her to the dynamic Belgian company, which is based just 20 minutes from her new home. ‘Much more pleasant than having to take a plane abroad each time’, Demeulemeester tells. ‘We developed a respectful partnership through which I could fully realise my ideas and designs. For Serax, it was a huge challenge to produce my unique pieces on a larger scale, while retaining the craftsmanship.’
The interplay of light and shadow ties the Ra and Dé lines of tableware and the Zoë line of cutlery together, as well as echoing Demeulemeester’s intensely chiaroscuro fashion oeuvre – with red and green as the unexpected accents. ‘My whole life I’ve been preoccupied with beauty. It’s my passion, my “raison d’être”’, Demeulemeester explains. ‘I enjoy being able to make whatever it is I need, what challenges me, what I dream of’. §