You studied Textile Design. How do you combine craftsmanship and art?
The distinction between being an artist and being a designer is an intriguing one. Textile design as an art form is always backed up by industrialization and craftsmanship. My work is usually very frisky and playful. In a light-hearted and poetic way, there isn’t a sharp difference between the process and the result. I guess that’s in contradiction with what many people think design essentially is: a product. But the artistic value in design and textile is also visible in the way it’s made and the way it’s used. I think the process and the run-up to the finished product are what’s most interesting. Being a teacher is a rewarding job in that way: being able to watch a whole creative process before a finished project.
There isn’t a sharp difference between the process and the result
Do you have a particular way of working?
In 2020, I made an installation for the exhibition Kleureyck at the Design Museum in Ghent. For the piece, I gathered colourful plastic objects like containers and household items and introduced that as a building set. I assumed the children would be building towers, but they used it in so many different ways. They would put a red bowl in a blue bowl and call it tomato soup. I like activating that childlike imagination with my work.
I was given a few rules for the assignment: using colours, accessibility for children, working around the senses… I’ve learned that rules like these, although they might be restricting to some, bring out the playful child in me. I try to give myself some matter-of-fact game rules each time I start a new project now. I made, for example, a deck of play cards with different materials on them, and another deck that has actions like knotting, folding or wrapping on them. I pick a card from each deck and work with what I get. The combinations are left up to chance and are an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
I’ve often asked myself: what can I mean as a designer in a world that has too much of everything already?
What’s something you grapple with as a designer?
I’ve often asked myself: what can I mean as a designer in a world that has too much of everything already? By using something that already exists, the process of reinventing that thing and giving it a new purpose becomes more important than the thing itself.
Knitting becomes a performance, the tool becomes an installation and the product becomes an artwork
Can you tell us about Knitting Space?
Magalie Delbeke and I started Knitting Space in 2016 during a masterclass by Erwan Bouroullec. We made a knitting tool inspired by industrial machines exploring knitting in a three-dimensional space. We combine industrial handicrafts with a more poetic notion of building spaces and walls. Knitting becomes a performance, the tool becomes an installation and the product becomes an artwork. Mobility and progress is the most important part. The act of using the machine, the connection between people making something. Knitting is centuries old and is still evolving and changing. We want to embody that history. The possibilities of textile and its handicraft are inexhaustible and it is a cause of so many valuable connections between humans.
In all of your work, you emphasize process and learning. What is something you want to learn?
I’m gonna say something very rational: biology. Or something agricultural or architectural. Especially architecture and construction sites are things that often inspire me: the way cities or floors of buildings are connected.
Subbacultcha and KASK & Conservatorium are teaming up for a series of artist portraits, featuring some of their interesting alumni profiles.
Design Fest Ghent - 22 Apr till 01 May