This new series, COLLECTIBLE In-Depth, unveils the backstage of contemporary creation. Tackling various topics from personal designer processes to the position of collectible design on the global design market, COLLECTIBLE In-Depth offers different views to suit all tastes. Today we speak with Davy Grosemans of ÆTHER/MASS.
COLLECTIBLE: Where do you take your inspiration from?
Davy Grosemans: Inspiration follows fascination. As a child, I watched my father make and repair stuff in his garden shed. Today, I realise I am still fascinated by ‘people making stuff’. By seeing how they make it, inspiration comes instantly. Most designs start from the question: who do I want to work with? Collaboration multiplies what is possible by getting access to the skills that have been mastered by others.
"[…] Aether turned into mass by transforming ideas into form and matter. In a desire not to restrict myself to a single material, I have experimented with a multitude of materials and processes."
C: Can you talk about a new piece / collection that you release for COLLECTIBLE this year?
DG: ÆTHER/MASS was founded in 2022. The first collection was launched to the press in October last year and Collectible will be the official physical launch to the public. This collection is the very first embodiment of our design philosophy: handmade objects in search of meaning. Aether turned into mass by transforming ideas into form and matter. In a desire not to restrict myself to a single material, I have experimented with a multitude of materials and processes. To make sure the first collection was on point, I worked with craftsmen I have known and admired for years and of which I knew the end result would be impeccable.
One of the first creations is the Lathe Series. It is ambiguously designed to cater to myriad roles such as that of a stool, a side table, a pedestal or a decorative totem. The three pieces in this series were inspired by the classical turned leg that is often found under many tables from the mid-18th century. Taking these legs and distorting and deconstructing them led to the creation of Lathe I, II and III. Its name comes from the lathe machine which is used to shape wooden and metal objects.
C: How did you get into collectible design? Why did you focus your practice on this type of design rather than industrial design?
DG: I have a background in industrial design and have been working in the creative industry for more than 20 years as an industrial and interior designer for different companies. By letting go of the industry dogmas and client demands, creating personal work and working with craftsmen has opened a new world of possibilities. It changes your way of thinking and lets you explore materials and processes in a totally different way. I enjoy the freedom and the “lack of rules” this type of design has to offer.
C: What are the key questions you ask yourself before starting to conceptualise a new piece?
ÆTHER/MASS was born out of a belief in collaborations between designer and maker, and a desire to experiment with materials and meanings. Above all, it is about the joy of imagining and creating, regardless of market logic or trends. The focus is on the creative process and collaborations with artisans, leading to exceptional collections with extreme attention to detail and finish. In this view, ÆTHER/MASS can be seen as a laboratory, researching materials, techniques and semantics.
Portrait of Davy Grosemans