Walking through the Interieur 08 halls of Kortrijk Xpo last weekend, I could not help but feeling disappointed. Funnily enough, that same event was a source of great excitement over a decade ago. 'Design' in those days, or at least in my memory, was stimulating, refreshing, unseen, innovative. This time both my wife and I had a feeling of 'been there, seen that'.
Is it because already numerous images of furniture, interior and other design have occupied a place in our memories? Probably. But nevertheless: walking through the aisles of the fair, we both had a similar sensation of... well, boredom. Giant booths, expensive no doubt, with often a great number of staff dressed in the appropriate outfit. Lively? Yes. But lacking soul.
The same type of slick design, catering to that part of the population that is not yet worried by what seems to become one of the major economic crises of our times. Durlet, Hülsta, Obumex... You name the big brands: they were there alright. And no doubt many potential customers paid them a visit. But did they in any way contribute to the future of design? Were they able to display anything close to a vision of where design is headed in the years to come?Did they prove their willingness to invest in creativity and talent? I may have missed it, but I don't think so.
The only place where we felt that same excitement that used to drive us to Interieur all those years ago, was the basement. Here, in the underground, where the Young Designers Fair had been given a place, was the beating heart of Interieur 08 if you ask me. Tucked away safely, as to not draw too much attention away from the big brands upstairs. In my opinion, however, this should have been the focal point of the entire fair. The refreshing and sometimes even naive concepts of the designers here could have provided just the mirror the big boys need.
I know organisers of a fair have commercial considerations, but a little bit of audacity has never hurt anybody. Especially not if you call your event 'biennale for CREATIVE interior design'...