When we saw work by Belgian designer Nicolas Bovesse recently, we were struck by what a difference the change of an angle, literally and figuratively, can make. Cut flowers are not placed right in water, but stand beside it to be "fed" as needed. A right-angled mirror set within glass that is "off" leads to a tilt of the head. The thought behind his designs and the upfront aesthetics are a combination that makes work by Nicolas Bovesse so intriguing.
Your latest collection is called Basculements, or Switches, and reflects the multi-faceted nature of each item. Did you set out to create items that incorporated this notion of switching, or did you realize afterwards that there was this commonality?
This collection is called "basculements" and is the starting point of my collection, but this concept is often present in my general work. When I was doing my studies in La Cambre (in Brussels) my last work was about "basculements." These were some objects that were the bridge between night and day... a bedside lamp, a pillow, a radio-alarm and a night table. So when I started to draw this collection, the word that described it was "basculements"... Some objects that are not static...
Éclat Mirror and Torr Vase
Prior to establishing your own design practice in Brussels, you worked in Paris with Radi Designers and the Bourroullec brothers. What was the most important lesson you learned through your internship with Ronan and Erwan Bourroullec?
When I was at the Radi Designers studio (it was when I was in my third year at La Cambre), it was very interesting for me to discover some new shapes, as there is a particularity about the Radi Designers' design: the strangeness. The shapes are ambiguous, the codes are scrambled and yet it is this strangeness about the object that is attractive. The internship in the Radi Designers studio was strange too because there are four of them, and together they all discuss the projects, so it was very instructive to discuss the projects this way and to see the results which emerged from everyone's involvement in the product.
In the Bouroullecs's workshop, it was very Zen. We worked in a kind of bubble; we worked calmly and slowly, and the notion was that we needed time to create some new products. Ronan and Erwan were very kind and they are friendly too... It was very important for me to work without any stress. In my studio in Brussels, it is the same. I work in my white bubble and I take time to think about new designs... To think about a concept, make prototypes, it takes time....
I don't know if the city influences me in my design, but it is clear that in Belgium we are near a lot of very important cities like Paris, Amsterdam, London, Cologne ... So maybe the other countries could be an influence on my work...
Brussels is also a cosmopolitan city and has various mentalities. It is a small city with an open mind, I think...
What would you say are the defining aspects of Belgian design today?
I think that Belgian design is not clear. You can't say: IT IS BELGIAN like you can do with Dutch design, but theirs is a variety of designer who works in a good way, influenced by a country that looks around and looks at things in a new way... I think that the Belgian creativity is a bit surrealist, poetic and functional.