Lampoon, 1b, A Bar By Koenraad Dedobbeleer
WORDS
REPORTING
TAG
BROWSING
SHARE
Facebook
WhatsApp
Pinterest
LinkedIn
Email
Twitter

1b, a Bar by Koenraad Dedobeleer ends at Maniera — the Belgian gallery founded upon Italian semantics

Following limited to no social gatherings, 1b played host to Bar Alto, Bar Basso — a night of Italian canapés and Negronis in honor of the famous Milanese bar

‘Maniera Moderna’

Maniera Gallery was founded in 2014 by Amaryllis Jacobs and Kwinten Lavigne – who she describes as her «partner in business and in life». The gallery commissions architects and artists to develop ‘furniture or objects for use’ beyond their usual practices.

With a viewport into their home, Jacobs explains: «We love to live with a lot of very different things around us». While many collectors in Brussels are opening their collections to the public in ‘white boxes’, Jacobs declares: «Art pieces end up in houses, in interiors. We mean and want to make pieces that you want to live with»

Holding up an exhibition catalog titled Carlo Mollino Maniera Moderna, Jacobs shows where the name and font used by Maniera originate from: «When you look at our logo you can read Carlo M, and you can also read the start of Moderna». In a text written for the catalog by Wilfried Kuehn, a German architect who the pair know personally, Kuehn describes Carlo Mollino (1905-1973) as an Italian architect, designer, photographer, and educator with a singular ‘maniera’: an Italian word meaning ‘manner’ or ‘style’. 

As a Belgian gallery founded upon Italian semantics, Jacobs expands on this with her own interpretation of the word ‘maniera’: «’Maniera’ is ‘working method’, but it is also ‘way of thinking’». Indeed, many architects with whom Maniera Gallery have collaborated originally participated in the lecture program run by the architecture department at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, or BOZAR. It was also at this significant art institution in Brussels that Jacobs once led the education department.

«Do it in your own ‘maniera’»

Other than designing pieces that people want to live with, simply put, their only brief is: «do it in your own ‘maniera’». Jacobs continues: «We are not concerned with a lot of things that an industrial designer needs to be concerned with – comfort is less important for us than it is for furniture brands»

Here, Jacobs cites unusual pieces «on the verge or borderline of functional and sculptural», such as Maniera 06’s Brick Studies (2016) by Studio Mumbai: a series of chairs, benches, and a plinth made from marble, grey and red bricks, wood, beeswax, and coconut oil. On Brick Study II, a limited edition bench which is now part of the permanent collection at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Jacobs says: «These things end up in collections, but they are fragile. You can sit on the brick bench for a while, but you can never lean back».

Slampadato by Bojan Šarčević

Then there is Maniera 13’s Slampadato (2017) by Bojan Šarčević: a voluptuous mohair wool sofa frame and dossier with a brushed, stainless steel seating cushion. Named after the Italian word for ‘a person addicted to using UV tanning-beds’, Slampadato questions architectural certainties: «This is a conceptual piece, but you could imagine using it. At Design Miami Basel, Giustini / Stagetti said this was the ideal party bench – you can sit on it, you can stand and dance on it, you can have a line on it. It was fun to hear them say that».

While Maniera Gallery can be less practical than true furniture designers, what they have learned is that pieces have to be strong and durable, or they must come with manuals. Here, Jacobs cites the use of natural materials that retain «traces from everyday life», such as Maniera 06’s Bamboo Studies (2019) by Studio Mumbai: a series of stools, armchairs, and benches in bimal, muga or nistrai silk rope, and natural or dyed bamboo that require «being made wet every now and again». 

Lampoon, 1b, A Bar By Koenraad Dedobbeleer
1b, A Bar By Koenraad Dedobbeleer, Photography Jeroen Verrecht

1b, a Bar by Koenraad Dedobbeleer

When Maniera Gallery invited Koenraad Dedobbeleer, a Belgian artist and the founder of C.L.E.A.R.I.N.G. Gallery in New York and Brussels, to participate in Maniera 25 «he said, ‘Let’s do a bar. We are going to do this show after covid, so it will be one of the first places where people will be able to gather again and have a party’».

From October 16 2021 to February 19 2022, Dedobeleer transformed Maniera Gallery into 1b, a Bar by Koenraad Dedobbeleer. Using a visual and linguistic language that is clearly «his ‘maniera’», Dedobeleer designed a composition of fourteen objects – including a Seventies Pussyfoot counter in green concrete plywood with purple edges and an integrated lamp; Beaux-Arts, Futurity, and Income Tax chairs with small black balls to finish off the backs and legs; Pooh-bar and Hanky Panky stools; Damn-The-Weather and Epicurian tables with marble tops and PVC tubing; Chappara and New Deal wall fixtures – and a wainscot paneling of mirrored images of a marble pattern printed as recto-verso posters to recreate «the atmosphere of a dark bar».

Inspired by the built environment

Inspired by his observation of the world as it exists and the design history of art and architecture – «we like those artists who are clearly inspired by the built environment» – Dedobeleer referenced Kronenhalle bar in Zurich by Robert and Trix Haussmann, Swiss architects and former collaborators on Maniera 11, and the 1980’s interior refurbishment of Palais Schwarzenberg by Herman Czech with a humorous lightness in his marble-topped tables and Soul Kiss, Mañana, and Za-za powder-coated steel and rope pendant lamps, whose lampshades are made from «real skirts that are cut, sewn onto magnets, and attached»

On humor, Jacobs makes a point to add: «Since we started to produce these pieces back in June 2021, Koenraad has become a good friend. We have a special relationship with all the people we work with, but with him it’s humor – we laugh with every message».  

Art Production 

«We see a clear difference in working with artists and with architects. Artists are into doing their own work. For example, Koenraad welds everything himself in a specific style. He loves to weld with bubbles coming out». Although there are exceptions – here, Jacobs references Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai, who has his own workshop in India: «Bijoy does his own production. While his inspirations are vast, the craftsmanship and materials always come from India» – many of Maniera’s collaborators have never made furniture before. 

Jacobs and Lavigne can  be heavily involved in production, working with contributors for one and a half to two years in advance of a show: «That’s where Kwinten is very important», declares Jacobs. Lavigne’s background was as a trained artist, before he began working in art production for artists and later leading the production department of Wiels, the Contemporary Art Center in Brussels. Known as «the guy that, if you don’t know how to make your artwork, you ask», Jacobs notes that Lavigne’s current absence is because he is already on the road to visit workshops.

The Futurity chair

For the Futurity chair, «Koenraad wanted to make a limited edition bent plywood chair, but with an industrial way of producing. Kwinten had a hard time convincing the factory to do this because the factory normally makes them by the thousands and, to begin with, we needed to make just ten. And then, they didn’t like the chair. The father called the son, saying, ‘Come and have a look at this chair, what do you think of it?’ And the son said, ‘It’s so ugly’». This amused Lavigne and Dedobeleer, with Jacobs explaining: «It doesn’t have to be beautiful for Koenraad; it’s not about aesthetics at all. Although, I was surprised by his colorwork in this bar – the colors work so well together, for me, it’s a total Gesamtkunstwerk».

Friday Nights

While each object is imaginable as a functional piece in a domestic setting, 1b introduced a non-domestic interior in its entirety. Here, visitors could sit down to enjoy a drink or discussion.

Following limited to no social gatherings, 1b was opened to the public and used as a bar once a week. With Dedobeleer attending every event, Jacobs explains: «In the beginning, these were club evenings. Downstairs we made a dance floor: there was just a carpet on the floor and one Chappara lamp on the wall» – Dedobeleer’s  clownesque nickel-plated steel wall fixture with red light bulb.

On November 12 2021, a Bar Alto, Bar Basso night was hosted by Kersten Geers, a Belgian architect, and Lodovico Corsini, the gallerist at C.L.E.A.R.I.N.G. – both friends of Dedobeleer. Jacobs describes the event as a night of Negronis made using Bar Basso’s in-house recipe – «we know the owners through our Italian architect friends» – in honor of the famous Italian bar. Geers and Corsini also brought over two very famous artworks from their own collections, because they had this idea of «these famous bars often having famous artworks». 

Saturday Dinners and Beyond

Despite Brussels being a very open city – «I remember some Parisians coming over saying this would never be possible in Paris» – the presence of covid required «some imagination and flexibility».

«In the beginning, we had a very young public, but we were missing our older public who are our most important clients», says Jacobs. Maniera Gallery adapted Friday nights into private Saturday dinners, hosting eighteen seated guests – though often double showed up – for dinners inspired by Gordon Matta-Clarke (1943–1978), an artist, architect and founder of FOOD restaurant in New York. 

On December 17 2021, a saké bar hosted by Pierre Leguillon, a French artist known for The Museum of Mistakes and his collection of small Japanese objects, saw a dinner at which guests were introduced to a traditional Japanese saké game: «There was an empty canvas on the table, twelve little saké shots, and this thing you turned. The last little saké shot that you touched you had to take, fill with saké, and then drink – but all the pots had a little hole in them. In the beginning, you just held them tight, but some were much bigger than others. This empty canvas went to each table during the night and, by the end, there was an artwork of spilled saké».

A car is also a functional object

While Jacobs cannot confirm whether Maniera Gallery will transform their space at 27 – 28 Place de la Justice into a permanent bar – «it’s something that people are asking us now, let’s see whether there’s an afterlife» – an upcoming project for Art Brussels that she does confirm is a collaboration with Harald Thys of Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys.

Having dreamt of designing a car his whole life, Maniera Gallery will be exhibiting a scale model designed by Thys, alongside car designer Lowie Vermeersch, and transforming into a car showroom using VR technology. Likening Thys’ humor to that of Dedobeleer, Jacobs says in closing: «A lot of people are saying Maniera is crazy, but a car is also a functional object»

Koenraad Dedobbeleer

Koenraad Dedobbeleer creates sculptures, objects, in-situ installations and photographs teeming with associations, tongue-in-cheek commentaries and art historical references. Dedobbeleer places the focus on everyday objects, which he modifies and recontextualizes. He does this with deconstruction and manipulation.

Amelia Stevens

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

SHARE
Facebook
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Email
WhatsApp
Twitter