Biennale Interieur 2014: the Kortrijk furniture fair reframes the notion of home

Metal staircases
This year's fair brings together hundreds of international exhibitors with their latest designs, alongside installations conceived by curator Joseph Grima of Space Caviar. Picture is 'SQM: The Theatre of Everyday Life', which explores the home as an evolving unit of space, economy, and society.
(Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani)

It's a different point of view to take, particularly when at a furniture fair. But outside the exhibition halls of Kortrijk Xpo in Belgium, where the 24th edition of the Biennale Interieur furniture fair is now taking place - a huge billboard makes a pronouncement: 'The Home Does Not Exist'.

This is the theme of this year's show, determined by curator Joseph Grima and his team, Space Caviar, who have been responsible for the cultural programme of the biennale. The idea, he says, is that since this fair began in 1968 (it is the oldest design biennale in Western Europe), 'a golden era for the design industry', the concept of the home has gone 'from dream to bust'. There is a crisis in the living room, he says, thanks to a vast number of societal, technological and economic shifts. Today we are apparently more likely to arrange our dream rooms on Pinterest than ever have the chance to create them in reality.

It sounds a little bleak. But actually this year's Interieur is anything but. Offering a mix of commerce and culture over six exhibition halls and a total of 40,000 sq m, the fair brings together hundreds of international exhibitors with their latest and greatest designs. Particularly of note were new launches such as Ross Lovegrove's spacey 'Acoustic Light Objects' for Barrisol, and &Tradition's latest luminous collections. Belgian and Dutch manufacturers were - as usual at the Biennale - out in force.

Bulo's new 'DAN' modular office system drew approving crowds, as did Sylvain Willenz for Objekten and NOTE Studio's new pieces for Per/Use. A collective show of all the Biennale's previous Belgian Designers of the Year is also a highlight - each showing new products: Jean-François D'Or, Alain Gilles, Nathalie Dewez, Bram Boo, Alain Berteau, Sylvain Willenz, Nedda El-Asmar and Stefan Schöning.

Around town Paris design studio Pool put on a standout exhibition inside the soon-to-be-demolished Broelschool building and London-based duo Glithero are staging an installation in the Broelmuseum. Called 'Fantoom', the duo uses glass surfaces and light to represent the museum's artefacts to visitors as ephemeral reflections. The aim? To give visitors a different point of view.

Display of capital cities

Visitors navigate a landscape of artefacts, film, drawings, photos, and information in a structure assembled at an architectural scale, with winding paths and staircases transforming the Rambla’s skylights into inhabitable space.

(Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani)

Large white light displays hanging from the ceiling

Barrisol, manufacturer of stretched ceilings, has collaborated with Ross Lovegrove on a series of volumetric lighting pieces. 'Manta', 'Infinite Loop', 'Beta' and 'Sigma' were presented in a space with an aesthetic 'that lies between the deep ocean and deep space'

(Image credit: TBC)

Close up of white ceiling hanging

The new lights by Lovegrove provide layered acoustic dampening and uniform lighting making it a good solution for large architectural spaces such as airports, atriums and factories

(Image credit: TBC)

Metallic reflective wall art

The shiny exterior of Ross Lovegrove’s installation for Barrisol was reminiscent of a copper hall of mirrors

(Image credit: TBC)

Seating area with large gold decorative ceiling decorations

Alberto Artesani, Frederik De Wachter, Francesca Perani and Sandra Marchesi teamed up to design Dried Chat Room, one of the bistro/bars at the fair.

(Image credit: Francesca Perani)

White tables with marble & wood tops

'In Quarto' table, by Pawel Grobelny, was debuted by Buda Gallery

(Image credit: TBC)

Row of table lamps

Verner Panton’s 'Flowerpot' lamp from 1968 is now being reproduced in four metallic finishes by &Tradition

(Image credit: TBC)

People standing in large yellow room

Part of the SQM program takes place in Kortrijk’s city centre, where the exhibition 'SQM: The Quantified Home' takes over the abandoned Broelschool, which will soon be demolished.

(Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani)

Exposed brick & red paint

In order to create the exhibition, Space Caviar and graphic design firm Folder hosted the Broelschool Demolition Workshop in which a group of ten participants carved alternative routes through the building to form a timeline of domestic space.

(Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani)

Statue in outdoor area with ground holes surrounding

Installation view of 'SQM: The Quantified Home'. Blending quotes, data, and diagrams, the timeline leads visitors to explore changing ideas of the home.

(Image credit: Wouter Van Vaerenbergh)

Large empty studio

'SQM: Roomba Ballet' forms the end of the timeline in the school’s gymnasium. It represents the apotheosis of the smart home, in a choreography of Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners.

(Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani)

Museum displays

Elsewhere in Kortrijk, Glithero's 'Fantoom' installation at the Broelmuseum highlights to visitors the instution's uncertain future, and the transient nature of any museum collection - permanent or otherwise

(Image credit: TBC)

Light & effect displays of artifacts

The installations use light and reflection to create ethereal ghosts artefacts alongside real pieces

(Image credit: TBC)

Green soft bench with shoes underneath

Back at the main fair, Zeitraum was among a number of brands exhibiting pieces refreshed with new textiles. A particular favourite across the fair were Raf Simons' collection for Kvadrat

(Image credit: TBC)

Colourful glass & ceramic vases

Pia Würstenburg's beautiful hand blown stacking vessels are made using combinations of glass, wood and stone

(Image credit: TBC)

Black & green cabinet

'DAN', Bulo's new modular furniture system, uses a plain black ladder element and multiple surfaces to create everything from shelving to work stations, ping pong tables and a bar

(Image credit: TBC)

Paint palette rug

Artist Sofie Lachaert’s Tranches de Vie exhibition features a series of cottages each with a separate identity and featuring objects and furniture with hidden messages. This painterly rug was among the pieces created especially for the fair

(Image credit: TBC)

Wooden chair with black metal frame

Mattiazzi's 'Uncino' task chair by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec is sculpted from wood using both CNC machines and traditional hand craftsmanship

(Image credit: TBC)

Green table with red & yellow chairs

Muller Van Severen's table and chairs for Antwerp gallery Valerie Traan

(Image credit: TBC)