Forms with a smile brings together designs and objects by modern surrealists and shows that nothing is what it seems. Hairy carpets, lamps in the shape of a milk bottle, USB sticks cut from wooden branches or seats made from plush stuffed animals. Is it pure humour? Or is it a provocative statement wrapped in an infectious smile? Like surrealism, design sometimes tells us more than we think. Armed with subtle irony, these new surrealists go to war in a world where a certain seriousness reigns.
Forms with a Smile – Design Today
Surrealism may be best known as a movement within literature and the fine arts, but the influence of this 20th-century artistic movement in other fields should not be underestimated. Even the world of design and contemporary design does not escape a healthy dose of surreal humour.
Dirk Wynants (°1964) is the founder and owner of the innovative Belgian furniture brand Extremis. He is also the main designer of the brand and the creator of the brilliant branding concept “Tools for Togetherness”.
The work of self-proclaimed ex-designer Martí Guixé (°1964) can aptly be described as ‘beyond design’. Creating new objects he finds rather ‘superfluous’ and ‘boring’; he prefers to concentrate on ideas, systems and living matter such as food and human behaviour. As a ‘global designer’, Guixé constantly travels back and forth between Berlin and his native Barcelona, analyses situations, rituals and movements and proposes radical solutions with a minimum of ergonomics – simple, immaterial, humorous and often iconoclastic.
Contemporary jewellery design is undoubtedly the result of thousands of years of craftsmanship, tradition and research. Contemporary jewellers still use the same precious metals and gemstones as their predecessors, but continue to experiment with techniques, innovate with new materials and create their own unique concepts.
Throughout the centuries, silverware has been a source of inspiration for many artists. Religious silverware raised the profession to unprecedented heights, but in the course of the 20th century commissions became scarce. More and more studios had to close their doors and monumental silverwork soon disappeared into the background. Gradually, training also left something to be desired. Father Rob and son Jaap Thalen’s dream is to make the very best again: objects, utensils and works of art in silver such as have been hard to find for a long time. Monumental creations for which both the old craftsmanship and the most advanced techniques are required. Their designs take shape in Francorchamps, Belgium, and are appreciated worldwide.