Objects with Love

An unexpected delight of 2018’s Biennale Interieur in Kortrijk, Belgium was the un-assuming Objects with Love – a refined collection of 45 seemingly unrelated objects, each created by a different young designer. The selection was arranged and curated by Swiss journalist and designer Connie Husser from design studio Vitra.

The objects presented a cross-section of design; as practical as a walnut serving spoon, as ornamental as an evocative mask made entirely from seashells. Scale varied from a chair to a sponge. Yet there was an intangible uniformity to the set; as if these objects were familiar to one another, subject to the same affectionate gaze. That gaze is Husser’s, her design-attuned eye attaching to vivid and tactile works from some of the most innovative international artists.

Copenhagen-based designer Hilda Hellström’s bold geology inspired Sedimentation urn was a centrepiece. There was a grooved bronze bottle opener from Norwegian experimental designer Sigve Knutsen. An uncanny granite clock from Stockholm-based furniture designer Kristoffer Sundin lay flat on the rounded platform. Swedish artist Stina Löfgren contributed a stoneware woman that seemed to float horizontally. This was set next to a carefully laid out rainbow rocai beaded necklace by Danish 13-year- old Margrethe Hjort Hay. An understanding of Husser’s taste and personality gradually emerged with examination of the curve, edge and hue of each piece in the assortment. This was a display of someone’s favourite things.

The curation was reminiscent of a child’s eagerness to show off their collection of knick-knacks: different coloured rocks and shells from beach trips, assorted buttons and broken beads, the shoe from an old doll, a toy car. Each, of course, with a long origin story and a fantasy world in which it is now is a fixture. This is a presentation that says, “Look at these things and you’ll get to know me.”

On the first day of the Biennale, Adam Nathaniel Furman, designer of one of the fair’s five landmarks and professor at Central Saint Martins, gave a lecture about colour, ornament and identity in design. Furman described our objects as one of the ways we externalise our identities, our homes become our external wombs.

Our objects become ornaments when we love them in this manner – their meaning extending beyond their function or even their communicative value, to the feeling or impression they evoke within us. We grow up and exchange our old lunchboxes filled with gemstones and Lego pieces for bookshelves with vases, postcards and magazines. Along the way, should our feelings for our things diminish? Objects with Love says not.

Each piece chosen by Husser is an object our hands long to become accustomed to. With them, we seek the same familiarity as the weight of our keys or the soft flat surface of our wallet – instantly recognisable when grazed at the bottom of our bag precisely because of a deep sense of ownership. These aren’t objects to admire, untouched since they were unwrapped, these are objects we can attach to. For this is part of the joy of design – when it truly becomes ours.

Click here for Oak’s review of 2018 Biennale Interieur.