By Regina Connell.
The designers we tend to fall in love with at Handful of Salt are the ones who revere the power of simplicity, material, and making. We’ve found, over and over, that those are the pieces and objects that possess the profound power to elevate our lives and consciousnesses and move us to our souls.
While we love the craftsmen who know how to make the perfect shoe, violin, pot, or piece of textile, we also love the designers who know how to coax sublime beauty out of a range of materials, while seeing the possibilities for great design therein. Belgian Michael Verheyden, (what is it with the Belgians?) is one of those rare designers who can do this.
He works across multiple platforms, from jewelry to furniture, and recently released some pieces in our favorite “it” material – marble – for Avenue Road. (See the full, very gorgeous collection here.)
Not entirely surprisingly, Verheyden’s had an eclectic career: he studies at the Media and Design Academy in Genk, and along the way played in a punk band. Graduating with a concentration in fashion, he did an internship with fashion designer Raf Simons and designed a successful accessories collection.
What was your thinking in switching from industrial design and fashion/accessories to objects? There was no strategy behind it. We bought a house and needed objects and furniture. But we couldn’t find the things we like, so we made them ourselves.
Industrial designers often love to work with new materials, preferring to work with fewer boundaries and retain more control: why do you choose to work with natural materials? Natural materials age in a beautiful way, and are pleasing for the eye and hands. There is so much happening in those materials on which a designer has no influence on. That’s why I prefer to intervene as less as possible, and keep the shapes simple, without being too minimalist or boring.
You both make and work with craftsmen to produce your designs. What’s your relationship to craft traditions? I have a lot of respect for craftsmen, and try to work local as possible to preserve the tradition and knowledge. We have also our own workshop where we make bespoke leather items. There is also a lot of sanding involved in the bronze and marble pieces, which are finished one by one by ourselves. So every piece has been through our hands.
You’ve worked with a range of materials. What is it about marble that attracts you? Maybe because it’s a very old material? It took nature many years to prepare it. I also like shapes that look as if they’ve have always been there. Using marble for these objects make them even look older, slower, heavier. It’s a wonderful material.