When it comes to art and design and their evolution, Belgium has a rich and interesting history. Many revolutionary designers were born in and inspired by this small country. Dealer Lenz Vermeulen has a passion for design and art, its history and the story behind it. At his online shop and gallery City-Furniture.be, he has been selling furniture, lighting and decorative items for over 16 years. He was one of the first dealers with his own online shop and over the years, he has built up a great reputation in his field, both nationally and internationally. Lenz has a great design collection and a phenomenal knowledge of the pieces he sells, and he likes to share the story behind each item with his clients. We asked him to select some Belgian pieces that particularly appeal to him. He chose designers such as Emiel Veranneman and Pieter De Bruyne, and artist Guy Vandenbranden and is happy to enlighten us.
Emiel Veranneman’s designs are fairly austere, with Japanese influences. They have been finished to perfection and the attention to detail is extraordinary. This stereo cabinet is a prime example of his inventive genius. When opening the cabinet, the doors slide into the frame, which means that the cabinet can be left open. It is also very appealing to look at. The cabinet dates from the eighties and it is the first edition of six. It has been exhibited at Seibu Yurakucho department store in Japan, thanks to the co-operation of Patrick Nothomb, Belgian ambassador to Japan. Emiel Veranneman also established his own foundation where his own work – and also the work of national and international artists – is shown. At the time, it was of pivotal importance in the world of art and design. The building where the foundation was housed is an architectural eye catcher, designed by architect Christiaan Vander Plaetse.
EMIEL VERANNEMAN stereo cabinet 1/6 produced by De Coene in 1988 ⇑
Designer Pieter De Bruyne is a pioneer of postmodernism in the Belgian design world. His designs are a well-considered, perfectionist, avant-garde take on functional objects and furniture. Through his frequent travels to the (Middle) East and the way he was inspired by Italian design, De Bruyne developed his own unique style. The pieces in these pictures are more than cupboards – they play with the balance between art and design. Their finish and the choice of materials makes them multi-functional, and they even seem to dominate the space around them.
PIETER De BRUYNE mirror cabinet with marble base, 1974 ⇑
I also have a passion for art, and I admire the work of Antwerp artist Guy Vandenbranden. His colorful works of art often have architectural and geometric shapes. Because of these elements, Vandenbranden is often named in the same breath as Piet Mondriaan and Victor Vasarely. In the fifties, Vandenbranden was co-founder of the art collectives Art Abstrait, Formes and Art Construit. Together with artists Mark Verstockt, Dan Van Severen and several writers, he formed a homogenous group, which also manifested itself in the Netherlands in the sixties. He painted in acrylic, made gouaches, assemblages and spatial work, mostly in wood. Some of his work can be found in the public area. City Furniture displays one of his lithographs, and I have a gouache in my private collection at home. The works are different in color and style, but both have been finished beautifully to the tiniest detail.
Apart from the three people I mentioned, there are other people in the world of Belgian design and art that I am passionate about. I like vintage and postmodernist design and art, but also contemporary art – for instance, the work of ceramists Wouter Hoste & Harvey Bouterse. Each of them has their own method and vision when it comes to making ceramics, yet they work beautifully together. They have their studio in the former pottery in Perignem, where ceramics were produced in the fifties and sixties under the direction of Rogier Vandeweghe. Wouter and Harvey collect ceramics from that period, and they have found the perfect balance between choice of material, theme and finish.
Find here a list of more Belgian designers and artists: Jules Wabbes, Alfred Hendrickx, Jos De Mey, Willy Van Der Meeren, Maarten Van Severen, Rudy Verhelst, Georges Van Rijk, Lucien Engels, Mark Verstockt, Gilbert Swimberghe, Luc Peire, Pol Bury, Jan Dries, Jef Verheyen, Jo Delahout, Ado Chale, Fernand Dresse, etc.
◊ ◊ ◊
All items from this article are available on city-furniture.be
Shop address 📮 City Furniture & Cover&Couch Britselei 1C 2000 Antwerp Belgium
All pictures © City Furniture
Words ✒ STEPHANIE DE SMET