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From the Curator

Although Belgium is a very small European country, the resonance of its creative landscape can be felt far and wide. In the Middle Ages, artists such as Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden made delicate paintings that are now shown in the most prestigious museums around the world. Later, Pieter Paul Rubens, René Magritte, James Ensor, and Marcel Broodthaers contributed to this rich artistic tradition.

If we’re looking for the origin of design, we have to go back to the end of the nineteenth century, when the Art Nouveau movement got also the power in Belgium. Leading figures such as Victor Horta and Henry Van de Velde saw their projects as a ‘gesamtkunstwerk’. They not only designed the architecture, but also the interior. While Victor Horta got famous for his organic, flamboyant lines, Henry Van de Velde worked according to the idea ‘form follows function’.

In addition to this industrial production, the contemporary design sector in Belgium became very diverse. It goes from graphic design over social and experience design to unique and limited edition designart pieces, of which you find a selection on Adorno. The significant growth of these collectible pieces went hand in hand with the renewed interest in crafts and unique handmade pieces. Following this trend, a lot of the young designers don’t only design their pieces, but also make them in their own workshop.

If you’re looking for a typical piece of Belgian design, it will be difficult to find it. As our country is the result of a cultural mix between German and Latin influences – it is divided in a Dutch, French and smaller German-speaking part -, and as we don’t have a strong nationalistic feeling, the creative outcome can be very different. Although a poetic, emotional and sometimes even surreal touch is never far away.