When Objects Work
When Objects Work was founded in 2001 by Beatrice de Lafontaine after a career in the bespoke interior decoration business working for many famous architects on private houses throughout the world, Beatrice was bought in to complete the finishing touches and on many occasions she struggled to find the exact objects that she required so decided to create a company that could fulfil this gap. When Objects Work is a Belgium editing-house of luxury objects that are designed by leading architects and designers. One of the most important principles of the pieces that are created are the form and the proportion, minimal forms, immaculate function and a timeless idiom. Objects are created from honest and natural materials with craftsmen sourced that are the best at what they do to create perfect forms. Read More
When starting to build cooperation with an architect or designer there needs to be a story or vision as to why When Objects Work should make the object that they are proposing.
The first ever When Objects Work collection was launched at the Milan fair in 2001 and was designed by John Pawson. The collection named ‘5 objects’ was based around the five objects that John Pawson said he needed in his house, a vase, a candle holder, a tray, a picture frame and a bowl. The bowl is weighted internally with sand so that it can be positioned to point in many direction, the vase can be used with an inner sleeve when the stems of the flowers are not beautiful and just the clear vase when they are, the tray can be used as one or as two parts and the picture frame can hold two pictures either in landscape or portrait, one for the family and one for the mistress.
The second When Objects Work collection that John Pawson created was born out of his stay with the monks at Novy Dvur in the Czech Republic. A set of cutlery, originally only a knife, three pronged fork, spoon and tea spoon, it has how grown to include a four pronged fork and a steak knife in collaboration with the Japanese sword manufacture Kai. The collection also includes a wine glass, water glass, a goblet of the same form and a collection of bowls with a selection of plates.
The third piece, a bench, was created for an exhibition by John Pawson at Leçons du Thoronet in Provence, France in 2006.
Drawing on Le Corbusier’s description of the twelfth century Cistercian Abbey of Le Thoronet as a building where every detail ‘represents a principle of creative architecture’, this exhibition isolated fourteen viewpoints, each selected to illustrate a particular ‘principle’, ranging from notions of context, landscape, circulation and order to the use of light, mass, junction, surface, repetition, rhythm, geometry, vista, scale and proportion. As a physical entity Leçons du Thoronet comprised simply a book and fourteen benches. Visitors followed a route around the site, pausing at each of the benches to contemplate a particular view. The accompanying catalogue interwove these viewpoints with a second set of images drawn from John Pawson’s own archive, tracing the thematic continuities linking Le Thoronet’s exemplary expressions of mass and light with the ongoing quest for simplicity in architecture.
When Objects Work then began work with the Belgium architect Vincent Van Duysen who created a set of pottery in different heights with different sized lids, one form that could accommodate every function. The inspiration for the colours and textures of these was drawn from a walk along the Belgium sea front with Beatrice de Lafontaine. Vincent Van Duysen picked up some sand, some shells and some drift wood and said that the colours and textures must come from those materials.
Vincent Van Duysens second collection was ‘primitives’ a selection of containers created from different raw materials designed to house everyday objects in a simple and beautiful way. Purity in form and function.
With the work of John Pawson and Vincent van Duysen giving a foundation to the company, When Objects Work went on to work with Maarten Van Severen on a set of cutlery which was born out a life time study of cutlery and the perfect materials that would create the best experience when eating. The collection was created as a limited edition and has now sold out. Claire Bataille & Paul Ibens on a collection that includes a small and large tray, an outdoor candle holder and some beautiful crystal glasses. Claryssa Berning with the incredible Meniscus bowl and then with Kate Hume on a series of Glass vases named Pebbles, Caillou and Rock.
Each year new pieces are launched at a gallery in Milan off Via Pontaccio and designers who have graced the When Objects Work collection have been established world greats such as Richard Meier and Shigeru Ban to the future greats of Michael Verheyden with his coupe & cone collection, Studio DY+LK with their +/- jars launched in 2012, Marc Kogan with his exquisite bowls also in 2012 and L=R Palomba with the magnificent Herb bowl.
Ferrious has followed, admired and delighted in When Objects Work since its creation in 2001 and it is one of the highlights of our yearly visit to Milan.