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Design September reflects on new priorities in Covid times

06:15 25/08/2020

Due to the pandemic, the Brussels Design September festival will, both in its presentation and its content, be breaking new ground this year.

The health crisis has focused people on family, on the importance of health, on thinking about which values are truly important. With this in mind, the BDS team has reflected on what to prioritise in the design industry - such as responsible consumption, the use of local resources, different means of mobility, and a reinterpretation of the role of objects in our lives: what is essential, necessary or useless?

The festival will be implementing three new themes. The first is upcycling. Preserving, recycling, creating and recuperating are the keys to this way of producing. It has already been in operation in Belgium for years but the pandemic has given it a new urgency. 

Upcycling designers repurpose goods to give them a new life “from the top” and their studios and workshops will be featured during the festival  as will be the circular economy, urban mining and goods exchange markets.

Also featured will be the Fablabs of Brussels with a focus on the transformation of plastic waste material into design objects using various machines available in open sources such as the growing diversity of objects produced with 3D printers.

The second theme is arts and crafts. Brussels is home to many artisans concentrating on creative manual work - be it a two-artist approach or group creation. There will be visits to 20 workshop locations across the city with activities planned. For instance, Zaventem Ateliers will be open for three consecutive Fridays during the festival. It’s a former 6000m² paper mill that was converted into workshops in 2018 and is home to 30 individual studios that house artists and collectives that work ceramics, leather, metal, marble or wood.

The third theme will be local creation, with the showcasing of 50 young Belgian (and especially Brussels) designers. Instead of having guests of honour coming from elsewhere, the young local designers will be featured individually on the BDS website and will have the opportunity to sell their products during the Brussels Contemporary Design Market, which takes place the last weekend in September. Also at the Brussels Contemporary Design Market will be a special exhibition of the classic inflatable furniture by visionary designer Quasar Khanh.

The  Brussels Design Museum will feature exhibitions of renowned designers in some of the most iconic locations in the city such as Maison Horta and Bozar, but also some much less-known cultural gems such as the Ancienne Nonciature located on the Sablon, which was the Vatican embassy in Brussels during the 19th century.

Design September, various venues, 9-30 September

Written by Richard Harris