Parisian gallerist Alexandre Biaggi and designer Hervé Van der Straeten are celebrating 20 years of collaboration with an edit of new work, inspired by the Italian futurists
“Working with Hervé is simple,” says Parisian gallerist Alexandre Biaggi about designer Hervé Van der Straeten. “There are never any problems, just solutions. But the true secret behind our collaboration is our friendship, trust and admiration for the other’s talent.” Biaggi started out as a dealer of 20th-century design but in 2000 branched out into working with contemporary designers, too: Van der Straeten was one of the first people on his roster, and they’ve been working together ever since. A special show at his gallery (on until 15 October) marks 20 years of this fruitful partnership, with some new designs exclusive to Biaggi.
Bronze evokes power, strength and longevity. It is one of my favourite materials
Van der Straeten says he was inspired by the Italian Futurist movement in his latest work. The dynamism and fragmented appearance of an Umberto Boccioni sculpture or a Tullio Crali painting are present in pieces such as the Labyrinthe console and table, made from patinated bronze. “They tend to catch movement,” says the designer about the artists who inspired him; he describes the furniture as “caught in action” pieces. For Biaggi, the Labyrinthe table is one of his favourite new works: “It is timeless: elegant and luxurious without being too ostentatious.”
Van der Straeten created jewellery and other products before he moved into interiors, and Labyrinthe also possesses the fineness that accompanies jewellery design. His forms often taper down to slim dimensions, revelling in pushing a material to its limits; if you need a reference point, his fragrance bottle for Dior’s J’Adore, designed in 1999, with its liquid-looking tearglass-shaped flacon, is a good one.
The new pieces are made from bronze, marble and alabaster, with the latter used to particularly ethereal effect in Van der Straten’s lighting. Eos is a large, full-moon-like disc of translucent stone, back-lit and mounted on a bronze base, while Séléné is its baby cousin, a smaller wall-mounted version. There’s also a new alabaster version of the Patmos table light, a design that goes back to 2001.
Bronze is the common thread within the collection. It runs as concentric rings up the base of the Twiggy floor and table lamps, alternating with black marble. “Bronze evokes power, strength and longevity,” says the designer. “It is one of my favourite materials.”
Van der Straeten runs his own gallery, across the Seine from Biaggi’s, and could presumably show his new work there, but he has found someone like-minded enough that he wants to carry on collaborating with. “Alexandre is very precise and pays attention to the details; I too am meticulous. I like things to be well made and he has an accurate point of view,” he says. Their shared eye for rarity and craftsmanship has seen them through the last 20 years, and will no doubt continue.