Bokrijk at the International Interior Biënnale Kortrijk

Inspired by the past

Bokrijk recently introduced repositioning aiming to clarify the relevance of our heritage for the present and the future. We achieve that by bringing the buildings, objects, their makers and today's visitors into contact in a different way. The focus is on contemporary craftsmanship. For example, curator Bart Lens suggested the idea of ​​'thinkers' and 'makers' working together on a joint project, the redevelopment of the castle. Ten designers were given the task of designing a contemporary design or object for the castle. During that project, five items were produced which Bokrijk presented at the Interior Biënnale during the edition of 2016. The proposals are inspired by existing collection pieces at the Open-Air Museum and have a clear connection with the objects from the past. Craftsmanship, a fair manufacturing process and a contemporary image give form to the contributions.

BKRK chair, solid oak and powder coated metal, Studio Segers (Bob and Wim Segers)

Studio Segers designs an honest piece of furniture that can withstand the winds of time. The three-legged archetypal ‘BKRK chair’ with backrest is stackable. The legs are made of round solid oak parts. And the seat and back are composed of solid parts. A metal part that refers to tool constructions makes the connection between the seat and legs. This chair requires craftsmanship, and it is not an industrial product.                     

One day the hunter becomes the prey, solid poplar, Frits Jeuris

The sculpture is inspired by the hunting room with its trophies. Jeuris plays with concepts that include ‘the ultimate hunter’, ‘ruler’, ‘castle owner’, ‘builder’, ‘terrorist?’ That last word brings us fully back to the present. (Present) “Who is the hunter or prey now? What are you chasing in your life?” In one way or another “One day we all become the prey” (future).

Mop carpet, 4 x 3 m, 100% pure wool, flat weaves, Davy Grosemans - das ding, produced by Belca

The mop is perhaps the humblest product ever made. It is merely a piece of textile, only good enough to brush up dirt and filth. After use, we store it out of sight with the cleaning stuff and switch off the light. Upon closer inspection it is a nice thing and not as banal as we think. It is, without us realizing it, an icon of Belgian design. The mop has been a popular item in Belgium for centuries. In the nineteen-fifties, textile manufacturer De Mandel began to weave mops and dishcloths with a stripe in the national colours. His successful idea of ​​the tricolour was soon taken over by others. Today, only one Belgian company produces the Belgian mop. The ‘mop carpet’ is an ode to the mighty Flemish textile industry of old, as well as a tribute to a banal but beautiful product. It is a unique piece, craft woven by one of the last carpet manufacturers in Belgium.

LangeTafel4 (Long-Table 4), oak and oil, Casimir

Originally, the table was not a fixed piece of furniture, but was prepared when there was a need. The Egyptians hid the table under their bed, in the Middle Ages the tabletop was often on the wall and the underside often carried a painting or piece of artwork. ‘LangeTafel4’ is one of those mobile, polyvalent tables. The artwork on the underside is by Stefan Peters.

Table painting, paint on leather and oak wood, Stefan Peters

The basis of this work is a series of paintings, the ‘Sliced ​​series’, the painted image is literally being cut into vertical strips. These strips, arranged as slats, affect the image and give it a new spaciousness. The treatment offers many opportunities for collaboration with other disciplines such as design, sculpture or architecture. The ‘Table Painting’ is a prototype of a four-meter-long table on trestles. Just like older table paintings, this piece of furniture can be dismantled and mounted as a painting. This is a contemporary investigation of landscape painting, or a look into how non-figurative painting can call on a suggestion of the landscape.

Room divider Lux, steel, 1 cm square profiles, natural tanned leather with laser engraving, Studio Segers and Karen Wuytens

The brief was that the castle's lounge area should radiate luxury and warmth through the use of the right colours, materials and moods. This is a space where one should be able to have a relaxed gathering ‘en petit comité’. A room screen allows privacy if and when needed. They can be arranged in different ways, as individual elements or combined, and thus divide the space as desired.

A thin steel graphite frame provides the necessary stability, and it gives a strong visual character to the object. The laser engraved leather is mounted on the frame on two planes. A horizontal plane provides the necessary privacy at seat height, and the vertical plane does that same at standing height. Small U-shaped laser engravings ‘flutter’ over the leather, and provide surprising transparency and depth.

Using the front and back of the leather and displaying the weld seams of the frame reflect a desire for pure use of material and to make the creation process visible.

Horse Deluxe, b-ALLROOM, Solid Oak and saddle leather, Jeff Rutten - Ick Reuvis

The object reminds one of a vaulting horse. Tack and saddle making are the inspiration and the object was made using classic furniture-making techniques. The ‘Horse Deluxe’ is multifunctional and intended for spaces where people meet. The object's shape and appearance motivate people to use it. One can sit on it, lounge around it or use it for a round table meeting.

Horsehair fabrics, woven wall coverings and curtain fabrics in horse hair/linen/copper, MGdesign (Martine Gyselbrecht) in collaboration with Van Maele Weavers (Tielt)

Gyselbrecht is developing a woven fabric consisting of a horsehair warp and a copper and flax weft. This will be the wall covering in the castle's lounge. She uses horsehair in the warp and flax in the weft to create flowing curtain fabrics.

The contrast of the materials emphasizes the fusion of present and past, organic and technological. A few years ago, the Van Maele Weavers weaving mill found a method for making a continuous thread out of the short hair from horses. Integrated hairs are wrapped with a water-soluble thread, which is rinsed away after weaving.

Finally, we can fully utilize the beauty of the horsehair, thanks to the use of modern technology.

Pancake 01, hammered and polished 1.5 mm brass sheet, hand blown glass, LED, Dimatelier - Vladimir Slavov

Shadows from ancient chandeliers create a fascinating composition of circles in different sizes. Working from that idea, the designers created a luminaire that offers a similar impression. The wall lamps, with hand-moulded metal parts in pancake form, have very long arms that extend the lighting devices to the centre of the room, and the play of light circles offers a new reference to those compositions that are familiar from chandeliers.

KistKast (Chest Cabinet), Solid Oak and Oil, Casimir

The chest was one of the first pieces of furniture made by human beings, a mobile and elongated piece of storage furniture that could be moved. Throughout centuries, the chest transformed into a cabinet; The function remained, but the use and the view changed. The lid became a door and the partitions became shelves. The ‘KistKast’ has eight legs and retains both the horizontal aspect of a chest and the vertical ones of the cabinet.

Silver identification plate on a little chain, two-hundred branches from local trees, Merel Eyckerman, Jenny Stieglitz, Karen Wuytens

Castle owners were happy to show off their possessions. Setting out the collection gave a good picture of the owner and collector's possessions and knowledge. The castle's round tower room is decorated with a selection of branches from the trees in the Bokrijk arboretum. Branches are attached to the wall, as if they are growing out of it. Each branch has an identification number because the selected tree species vary greatly, ranging from bamboo to oak. A ceiling fresco is the finishing touch to the ‘branch installation’.