Ann Demeulemeester furniture collection launches at Serax
An investigation of light and shadow, Ann Demeulemeester’s furniture debut with Serax follows on from her collections of glassware, tableware and lighting
Belgian fashion designer Ann Demeulemeester needs little introduction. Thirty-seven years since she established her namesake label and put Belgian design on the global map, Demeulemeester’s flair for austerity, minimalism and the unexpected is alive and well. She returned to helm her eponymous label in 2021, after departing in 2013, and her reappearance in the public sphere has been bolstered by her other pursuits in design. In September 2022, she unveils a fully fledged furniture collection with fellow Belgian Serax, with whom she has designed collections of tableware, glassware and lighting since 2019. The furniture collaboration, a first for Demeulemeester and her longtime partner and collaborator Patrick Robyn, brings to life yet another facet of the unique world they have created together over the past three decades.
Ann Demeulemeester furniture with Serax
As with her other undertakings, Demeulemeester’s spin on furniture design emanates a refined and cerebral aura. Her elemental approach to form means that many of the pieces are grounded in clean lines, giving rise to expressive experimentations in dimensionality.
The collection’s slender, curved back ‘Elé’ dining chairs, and the ‘Eloïs’ table, with its flat, rectangular plane placed delicately on top of four spindle-like legs, are both almost skeletal in nature, while in contrast, the ‘Ono’ sofa and ‘Beth’ daybed both display rounded profiles, rich upholstery and elongated silhouettes that create an equally dramatic presence on the other end of the spectrum.
‘[Patrick and I] have always felt a strong affinity with furniture, and the lockdown was the perfect time to start working on our very own collection,’ says Demeulemeester, who once lived in the Maison Guiette, the only surviving house in Belgium designed by Le Corbusier. ‘I make something because I miss it, I want it and I can’t find it. The team at Serax are respectful and supportive, and we all share the same sense of excitement.’
Continuing in the vein of the previous collections designed for Serax, Demeulemeester’s furniture collection is an investigation of light and shadow. There is a persistent interplay of contrasts, similar to her sartorial collections, which reiterates how unified her creative process is despite the range of mediums. ‘[The furniture and fashion collections] are like brother and sister. They have the same parents,’ she says. ‘It is a mirrored process. You create an image in your head and work as long as needed to materialise it.’
By exploring the tensions between strength and fragility, structure and nonchalance, the precious and the functional, and geometry and proportion in a new spatial mode, Demeulemeester’s furniture collection brings a freshness to her enduring design philosophy. This also extends to the choices of colour, which span deep black, off-white, moss green, pale pink and a vibrant burnt orange, which are matched with unexpected, idiosyncratic choices in textiles and upholstery, all exclusive to the collection.
The collaboration’s final flourish comes in the form of a specially designed showroom to present the collection, created by Robyn at Serax’s Antwerp headquarters. Comprised of curved surfaces, discreet openings and a wall of curtains, the space sets the scene for the unexpected. §