A new Swedish/Belgian exhibition can be seen as an ode to the European heritage of textile craft.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
December 12, 2022
In 2021, Swedish designer Sizar Alexis showed his Lahmu collection, as part of the Discovered exhibition in London 2021, asking designers to make an object totally in wood and inspired by the experience of living and working in isolation. His two sculptural furniture pieces work either as seating pieces or relief table pieces, referring to a bunker as a place for protection. He now joins forces with his sister, Sinar Alexis, for the launch of the Ousia collection, consisting of a chair and a stool inspired by the furniture of the Mesopotamia civilization.
The new line is presented in a new duo show, common/un/common, at Gallery Atelier Ecru in Gent, Belgium, together with Belgian textile designer Nathalie Van der Massen, whose work explores the sensitivity for natural materials, surface, and technicality. For this exhibition, she’s created new works in which her own hand is even more visible. It results in experimental and poetic designs in the middle of a work of art, a sculpture, and a crafted textile work. Tactility remains central while she also plays with colours — hard and soft — and textures, matt and glossy. Her work can also be seen as an ode to the Belgian and European heritage of textile craft — away from the fleetingness of our times, reaffirming the value of an age-old, time- and labour-intensive craft.
For the exhibition, one of the Alexis siblings’ chairs is also covered with one of Van der Massen’s textile works (pictured above, left), overlaying on it and giving it almost an extra skin or armour. The result is a piece full of contradictions — black and white, sculptural yet fragile. According to the three designers, the new work can be seen as a contemporary interpretation of a traditional utensil, the thrones of ancient Mesopotamia. In Mesopotamia’s civilisation, the throne, or kursi, symbolised the divine or its representative — such as a king — which meant that only people in authority were entitled to it.