The refinement of his furniture combining ebony and bronze, lacquer and parchment shows a remarkably virtuoso know-how. But Hervé van der Straeten also calls upon formal research methods which never cease to surprise. By Eric Jansen
First there was Turbulences, then Débauche, Distorsion and Dissonances... The names may suggest a somewhat disordered creative outpouring while the reality is, in fact, quite the opposite. Few, if any, are more self-controlled than this man. There are, however, two sides to Hervé van der Straeten: in his sketchbooks he draws mirrors surrounded by irregular circles, unstable console tables, tables with wonky legs. Above all, don’t do it straight, symmetrical or rational... The designer pushes the limits of the déjà vu, reinterpreting an ancestral know-how. From his debuts Hervé van der Straeten joined the confidential list of the 20th century’s great designers. While many of his fellow designers stuck to "beautiful and useful", designing pieces for the masses, he opted for the rare and precious, the limited edition or even the unique, in the pure French decorative arts tradition. His bronze, parchment, lacquer or rock crystal creations have the sophistication of a Frank piece of furniture or a Chareau wall lamp. Since 2004, he has his own workshops where around thirty craftsmen work on pieces some of which require 600 hours of work… Cabinet-making held no secrets for him, yet it was necessary to bring 21st century modernity to this know-how, to this quality of execution. This is what Hervé van der Straeten has been working on for twenty years.
Electron standard lamp
Cristalloïde console table
How can you be in sync with your time when you love noble materials, meticulous finishing and the heritage of the past? The designer is always asking himself the question, and it can take a while to get some sort of a response. Two to three years separate one collection from another. Modernity, as it has been mentioned, gushes from movement, from a suggested imbalance thanks to technical prouesse, to innovative design. It also scratches the surface with the unprecedented association of bronze and ebony, parchment and lacquer, with the remarkable marquetry that Hervé van der Straeten creates. It appears more clearly with the use of new materials such as anodized aluminum, polished stainless steel or Plexiglas. And finally, it truly explodes with colour. For example, the Cristalloïde console table, the Electron standard lamp or the Candy chandelier, three pieces from the new collection currently exposed in his gallery in the Marais. The collection is named Fun Ride... "The original idea was the funfair, a desire for frivolity and flashy colours" he explains, but on closer inspection, frivolity is only a façade. The 35 pieces reflect the preciousness that has built his reputation, and behind the merry-go-round is long and meticulous work. A duality that mirrors this perfectionist with a carefully bridled dose of fantasy.
Bowling console table
Galerie Hervé van der Straeten
11 rue Ferdinand Duval Paris 4th District
Tel: 01 42 78 99 99 - www.vanderstraeten.fr