As someone who travels a lot and is interested in design, I always wonder if there is country specific design. You know like typical German design, French design, Italian design. Sometimes we seem to have a certain notion of a country’s design aesthetic, but as with many other aspects of modern life, the boundaries have gotten blurry. With a world highly interconnected and globalized, design is hardly ever defined by its geographical provenance. Yet I set off to a design trip mid October that brought me to Antwerp in Belgium. And I continued my quest: Is there a peculiar Belgian design?
The design tour, organized by Function + Form, led us to a few interesting design and art spots in Antwerp, a truly thriving and buzzing city in Belgium’s Flanders region. I already talked about Ethnicraft. Today I want to introduce you to two further interesting Belgian design brands: Universo Positivo and Notre Monde. Let’s have a closer look at these two Belgian design brands!
Universo Positivo is a young design label focused on masterfully crafted home items that will last and blend into the daily lives of their users. The brand has been formed as a sort of spin off of Ethnicraft and was initiated by the designer duo Jan and Lara, who presented their first collection back in 2013. The product portfolio includes furniture, lighting, and accessories. The predominant materials used in their products are wood and steel, giving them a timeless and natural aesthetic. Moreover, the products from Universo Positivo have a certain Scandinavian appeal. Yet a playful twist sets them off. Probably that’s the DNA of Belgian design? Timeless, natural, with a playful twist? Maybe.
Notre Monde is yet another interesting design label from Belgium. Their trays, mirrors, and accent tables combine luxury and function. At Notre Monde every piece is a one-of-a-kind piece. The sophisticated designs are dreamy, ethereal, sometimes bold and sometimes subtle. Some pieces resemble the unattainable beauty of the moon, others recall traditional patterns of foreign cultures. Some accent tables look like art pieces – have a look at the Blue Mist Organic coffee tables range! Each piece is handcrafted in their studio using traditional techniques. This adds a trademark quality to each item.
With two brands like Universo Positivo and Notre Monde it is almost impossible to boil it down to one specific Belgian design approach. Instead it feels like the country’s design signature as is varied as the country itself – international, mixed by cultures and languages. Maybe that is Belgium’s signature as a country in general and as seen from a design perspective: a good mix of influences resulting in timeless design that is made to last!
Photography via Universo Positivo and Notre Monde