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 Robbe & Nik Vandewyngaerde from Objects With Narratives.
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?
Robbe & Nik Vandewyngaerde: In 2019, we were both practicing as architects. Nik for the Basel-based office Herzog & de Meuron and Robbe for OMA in Rotterdam. As a reaction to the slow-paced world of architecture and our urge to create something together, we started designing our own objects under the name Object With Narratives. We believe in shifting the incentive of design from function and esthetics to objects powered by narratives. We quickly encountered other designers having a similar thought process, so we started to collaborate, enforce and publish their works. While developing and designing on our own, we noticed how difficult it is for designers to commercialize, develop and produce their own creations due to budget, logistical, legal or production limitations.
That is when the true identity of OWN came into existence. Our third partner and life-long friend Oskar Eryatmaz who has experience in the commercial sector then joined the team. Together we established a bottom-up platform that allows designers to focus on just designing. At the same time we provide the platform to showcase and sell those designs as well as provide services to the designer on all other aspects.
Our role is to nurture our artists in several ways, for helping their vision come to life to connecting them with other artists across different fields, creating new opportunities, and understanding their goal and objective of their studio.
C: How do you position your city in the global design market, what makes your city unique, trends?
Robbe & Nik Vandewyngaerde: In a rapidly changing world with significant shifts to digital means, one has to be able to keep up with their new audience. For us, going online should be no longer an extension; rather, it should take a pivotal role in keeping the gallery ecosystem alive. We are neither a niche gallery nor a stand-alone commercial shop. In between those worlds, we create our own hybrid genre in the form of a nomadic gallery. We provide a creative space that actively empowers bold creators to present their story-driven work through an interactive webshop, other online channels and, physical exhibitions, pop-ups and, fairs. We make thus uncommon & collectible design pieces accessible for everyone worldwide in a transparent way. We are, therefore, our interpretation of a 21st-century gallery that is not based in a specific city but targets the global design market globally.
C: What are the key questions you ask yourself before starting to conceptualize an exhibition?
R & N: Being trained architects, we see an exhibition as an opportunity to create a new story that resonates with the theme, place and, time of the fair. Collectible 2022 is an excellent example since we were born and raised in Brussels; the first exhibition we took part in as designers was at Collectible 2020. In addition, our greatest inspiration - local hero - René Magritte- was a true “Brusseleir.” For him, painting was a form of thinking, raising questions, and above all, a medium of telling compelling stories - as collectible design is to us.
Therefore it seemed inevitable to work around the concept of Surrealism. As the word “sur-real” suggests, the works go beyond the meaning of the reality we see and demand a second reading allowing the emotional connection great design is seeking. This lure of illusion is exactly what “Surreal Fictions“ - the name of our exhibition - aims to achieve. Our booth reacts to the site-specific conditions by using the surrealist idea of twin phenomena or dualities. The space is divided into two complementary environments that communicate with each other: one side is rendered darker, less rigid and, dominated by blue, purple and, pink colors, while the other side draws on lightness, structure, a space of living defined by neutral, ochre and reddish hues. Two unique spaces stimulate each other and eventually merge into one Surreal experience.
C: What is the relation you hold with the designers you work with?
R & N: It is paramount as curators to reach a symbiotic relationship with our designers. To us, each creator – from household names or designers with a limited following and notoriety - has a significant place in our ecosystem. Therefore, we carefully select each designer to start a fruitful collaboration. Our role is to nurture our artists in several ways, from helping their vision come to life to connecting them with other artists across different fields, creating new opportunities, and understanding their goal and objective of their studio.
About Objects With Narratives
Objects With Narratives is a 'Nomad Gallery' for designers by designers, that believes in shifting the incentive of design from aesthetics and function to objects powered by narratives. On rare occasions, one can become engaged with a piece to a level beyond flash, when they start to create a deeper bond with the object. Storytelling does this far more powerful than esthetical or functional considerations alone. With this approach, objects become merely the medium where it is more about owning a narrative rather than the physical object. Therefore we believe in shifting the incentive of design to objects powered by narratives.
Hence our platform’s name Objects With Narratives... OWN is neither a niche gallery nor a stand alone commercial shop. In between those worlds, OWN creates its own hybrid genre. A platform that concentrates on the value and the story of the pieces itself rather than the name, style or era of the designers that represent the objects. We make uncommon & collectible design pieces accessible for everyone around the world in a transparent and reasonable way, while taking care of their designers needs. We thus provide a creative space actively empowers bold creators to present their story-driven work through an interactive web shop, other online channels and physical exhibitions around the world.
We work together with household names as with young designers who don’t have or have a limited following and notoriety, as long as each designer has a strong narrative behind their work and practice. Our services vary depending on the level of support the designer needs. We will be able to offer sales and marketing, logistic and production options. The designers benefit from a large network of other designers that they can collaborate with.
Founders and Curators of Objects With Narratives, Portrait. © Object With Narratives