«This young Franco-Belgian designer is very vocal about being part of the Brussels design scene.»
Indeed, it’s in the heart of the Belgian capital that the DesignerBox team met him, via MAD, Home of Creators. ‘Warm, sparkling, human’ are just some of the ways in which this prolific young designer describes his love for the city that is a constant source of inspiration to him.
Pierre-Emmanuel Vandeputte studied industrial design at La Cambre, adopting the demands and extremely precise techniques of mass production. But his vocation goes back much further: to his childhood, where we first see his strong taste for making things.
‘My grandfather took us to the seaside, and together we made little windmills to plant in pathways in the sand. It’s definitely from him that I get my desire to make things!’
Later, visiting his sister who was studying architecture at the Ecole Boulle, Pierre-Emmanuel discovered the neighbouring carpentry and ironwork studios. His interest in craftsmanship grew to the point where he decided to embrace a career as a designer.
His extremely practical training, which gave him a solid grounding for all kinds of creative projects, provided the foundations for his eminently human, sensitive approach to design.
‘Today, my designs are produced in batches of a maximum of 1,500 pieces. This is not necessarily by choice. The kind of objects I design don’t lend themselves to mass production.’
All of Pierre-Emmanuel Vandeputte’s designs have in common that they offer new uses that different from the classic, expected ones. Hence, they meet subtler, more emotional needs than the purely practical, at the same time as widening users’ horizons.
He claims not to be an artist, but there is undisputed poetry in the young Belgian designers’ objects, as evidenced by Paradosso, a ‘backrest for sleeping upright or for daydreaming’.
‘The common thread in my work is this desire to stand back, to change perspective,’ Pierre-Emmanuel explains. ‘For example, my Belvedere ladder is topped by a seat that invites users to get up high and observe their daily surroundings from a new angle.’
Clearly anchored in the reality that he seeks to transcend through his familiar but innovative objects, the designer is an unceasing observer of the needs of his contemporaries in his quest to offer tailored solutions for modern life.
‘My felt Nascondino (‘hide and seek’ in Italian) alcoves aim to provide those moments of intimacy that have been lost in daily life. Architecture originally allowed us to partition-off spaces, but in the the era of open spaces, I thought it would be useful to bring back these lost zones of seclusion.'
The design of the Scissors’ Sisters carafes also stems from observation and a talent for reinvention, but was also, in this case, about paying homage to the artisan techniques of master glass-makers. Invited to Meisenthal in Lorraine by the Centre International d’Art Verrier, for a collaboration, Pierre-Emmanuel Vandeputte was inspired by the specific techniques of glass-blowers in the finish of his design:
‘During the production of carafes, the master glass-maker traditionally uses a pair of scissors to divide the top part of the vessel by making a perpendicular cut that forms the spout. This generates its form naturally!’ The look is created by the movement and reminds users of the tool used in its production.
Offered in two sizes responding to two clear and distinct uses, the Scissors’ Sisters bear elegant witness to the artisan skills dear to their creator.