during our recent function+form design tour of antwerp we had a wonderful introduction to a great selection of belgian design brands at the quirky pop-up concept store, quatuor.
housed inside one of the oldest, higgledy-piggledy buildings in antwerp, this design haven is spread across three floors, with each room stemming from a narrow staircase, creating a wonderful maze of stylish design finds to stumble upon at every turn…
for twenty years, ethnicraft have been creating timeless, sustainable furniture from solid wood. craftsmanship and enduring design lie at the core of their brand philosophy, but behind the simplicity of their pieces lies a constant drive for innovation.
based in the belgian town of boom, just south of antwerp, ethnicraft believe it is their moral obligation to ensure they take environmental issues to heart, from the origin of their wood, sourced from sustainable plantations in indonesia, serbia and the united states, to the energy used throughout the entire production and distribution process, all the while keeping waste to a minimum through a strong commitment to recycling.
authenticity, simplicity and impeccable craftsmanship are what we believe in. in essence, we believe in good design.
working in oak, teak and walnut, ethnicraft describe their furniture as ‘emorational’ – a word combining both the ‘emotional’ and the ‘rational’ responses to design – seeking to evoke a sense of emotion through the warmth and tactility of solid wood.
internationally acclaimed designer nathan yong is the man behind the angular n-chair collection. “i like my designs to evoke a sense of wonder,” he says, and that is exactly how i feel about his seating range, which you can see in the lead image.
i’m also really drawn to the nordic collection – especially the bed, left, which combines clean lines, strong shapes and subtle details which enhance the warmth of solid oak wood. the clever storage drawers add to both the charm and functionality of the piece.
debuting at maison & objet in paris in 2013, universo positivo was initiated by ethnicraft and husband-wife design team jan and laura, who collaborate on each collection with eight other european designers: omas merlin, hertel & klarhoefer, gud studio, kaschkasch, sascha sartory, djordje cukanovic and alain van havre.
the contemporary minimalist brand style marries warm oak with lacquered metal for a multifunctional, affordable line with a firm focus on a timeless aesthetic.
like ethnicraft, universo positivo are committed sustainability, with almost all items in their collection carring the fsc® 100% label, while all are manufactured in europe.
my favourite of all the designs has to be the solid oak kompagnon bar cart by sascha sartory; i just love the chunkiness of the cubed base and strong graphic silhouette of the piece. i imagine it’d be incredibly versatile, at home in the bathroom to store toiletries, in a pantry to store food goods or the corner of a dining room, laden with gin bottles (i’m hankering after the latter for my home..)
i’m also a fan of the proportions of the curved metal gabbia chair by russian designer djordje cukanovic, which seemingly ‘hugs’ its wooden seat in a soft, gentle embrace. paired with the classic tailoring of the low disc coffee table, i can see these two pieces happily at home in a conservatory or sunny nook.
established in 1997 by american artist dawn sweitzer, notre monde seeks to create one-of-a-kind, functional objects inspired by travel, nature and the beautifully simple objects found in everyday life.
although not strictly a belgian brand by origin, notre monde partnered with ethnicraft in 2013 to increase their reach in the global marketplace, and have grown from strength-to-strength since then.
their trays, mirrors, and accent tables combine luxury and function, with every piece uniquely handcrafted in their studio using traditional techniques, to create designs that can range from romantic and ethereal, to bold and graphic.
while i’m more naturally drawn to the subdued colour palette and minimal motifs of the classic collection – especially the new ss17 black slice and brown dots designs – i also find myself lusting after some of the more opulent and decorative designs, in particular the bold geometry of the moroccan chocolate and tribal hex trays.
you may have actually spotted the heavy aged mirror tray in my recent post on candles – the large round tray fits perfectly atop my knoll tulip coffee table, and the gently reflective surface is perfect for bouncing the flicker of candlelight around to create a magical, evocative atmosphere.
you can shop my fave notre monde trays below:
the function+form bloggers design tour to antwerp was organised in collaboration with pentacom pr, city of antwerp and the design centre winkelhaak. check out the hashtags on social for more: #bloggerstourantwerp #wearefunctionandform.