This new series, COLLECTIBLE In-Depth, unveil the backstage of contemporary creation. Tackling various topics from personal designer processes to the position of collectible design on the global design market; these COLLECTIBLE In-Depth offer different views to suit all tastes. Today we talk with Maarten De Ceulaer.
COLLECTIBLE: What do you think about the position of contemporary collectible design on the design market? How do you think the contemporary collectible design market is evolving?
Maarten De Ceulaer: Collectible design still represents just a tiny little fraction of ‘the design market’. Still, it’s nevertheless interesting to see how fast it is becoming more widespread and ‘mainstream’, mostly thanks to social media. Whereas before it was a rather select group of people having exposure to collectible design at fairs, exhibitions and galleries; today designers are reaching a much larger audience directly online.
I love to develop projects on my own where I have full control over everything.
C: What do you think collectible design brings compared to other more massively produced pieces?
Maarten De Ceulaer: When you buy an exceptional collectible design piece, you know that you are buying something very personal and pure, something where the designer put their heart and soul, without all the limitations and restrictions of regular industrial design practice. It is a direct expression of their identity and vision without too many compromises. If it’s an interesting piece, it will bring joy, poetry, emotions and/or contemplation to your everyday life. Your relationship with it will evolve and grow over the years, just like with any other great work of art.
C: How did you get into collectible design? Why did you focus your practice on this type of design rather than industrial design?
MC: I graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven with A Pile of Suitcases, which immediately found its way into the gallery circuit, so I rolled into collectible design very naturally. I also like to work on more industrial projects from time to time, but I love the direct approach of collectible design. It’s a very pure and personal expression of the designer’s vision and I love to develop projects on my own where I have full control over everything. To make an idea grow from the first sketches to the final piece is a fantastic feeling; it’s why I do what I do.
C: What are the key questions you ask yourself before starting to conceptualize a new piece?
MC: I have to get really excited and obsessed with something first, a bit like falling in love. Then, when I see that something really captured my attention, I start giving it more of my time and energy, so the project can begin to grow. During this process I go back and forth the whole time, and ask myself regularly; does this have a good reason to exist, or not? Then, I keep going when I can convince myself that the answer is yes.
C: Where do you take your inspiration from?
MC: It can be from everywhere; something I see in a hardware store, in a movie, a fashion show, nature or a city walk, in a factory… Anything, really. Usually, I’d already be working on something or have something in the back of my mind. I would then come across something completely different that still somehow clicks and resonates with that other something, and that’s how ideas start to grow with me..
About Maarten De Ceulaer
Maarten De Ceulaer is known for the highly evocative, poetic and playful touch he gives his objects. He uses his work to tell stories, to stir people’s emotions, to inspire their imagination and to make them wonder. He continuously explores new materials and investigates production techniques and crafts.
Maarten De Ceulaer, Portrait. © Teri Romkey.