© Sven Laurent
MANIERA’s first exhibition shows prototypes of limited edition furniture designed by the Brussels-based architecture duo OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen and by the Dutch, independent architect Anne Holtrop. By request of both architecture firms, artist and long-time collaborator Bas Princen acts as curator of the furniture series and of the accompanying exhibition.
For MANIERA, OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen conceived a table and a chair. In this way they focus on what is fundamental. The table was designed in collaboration with engineer Arthur de Roover. It is both a very simple design with a clear emphasis on tectonics and an effective piece of engineering. We present 3 prototypes of the table in different kinds of materials and differing dimensions. The chair is a ‘frozen’ version of the walking-stick chair “No.6822”, as designed by Thonet in about 1866, and long out of production. It is a deliberate ‘open’ interpretation of the original, much in the tradition of variations in the turn of the last century (by Adolf Loos and others). Undone from its actual folding mechanism, it becomes a contemplation on surface and structure.
Anne Holtrop created a series of furniture objects based on the stone collection amassed by the French philosopher and sociologist Roger Caillois as pictured in his book The Writing of Stones. Caillois shows a collection of the insides of agate, jasper, and onyx stones. The remarkable thing in these stones is that we tend to see images in them. Anne Holtrop carefully selected fragments of the stones and from them made his Mirror, Desk and Shelves. The objects are given the same painstaking treatment as a painting. They are hand-painted by Sylvie Van der Kelen of the Brussels decorative painting academy Institut Supérieur de Peinture Van der Kelen-Logelain (since 1882). Specialized in trompe l’oeil techniques, she recreates the effect of Caillois’ ‘pierres à images’.
Roger Caillois (1913 — 1978) was a friend of Surrealist André Breton, that is until they had a disagreement. Over a Mexican jumping bean no less! Caillois wanted to cut open the symbiotic legume and peer in at the worm inside while Breton preferred to remain ignorant of the mechanics behind what he saw as a magical thing. It is Caillois inclination for empiricism that separated him from Breton, and in turn inspired him to explore the grey area between the magical and a natural order of things.
Caillois collected a humongous collection of polished stones from around the world, seeing within them what he termed “secret cyphers of the Universe.” They become miniature pieces of art, with no artist behind their creation except for the Universe itself. Caillois not only questions the role humanity plays in art creation, but also the aesthetic values that only humans possess. These stones for Caillois show how without humanity there remains aesthetic. Further it is nature that dictates human aesthetics and imagination. (from Press Release)