February 28 2014
The World of Hervé Van der Straeten
This designer-jeweler creates pieces of high-end, limited-edition furniture with an ultra-modern aesthetic.
Hervé Van der Straeten is a purveyor of forms that he transmutes into true works of art.
He is one of those designers who opts for craftsmanship over industrial production, preferring to maintain his control and independence. Hervé Van der Straeten was first known for his jewelry collections. After attaching his baroque creations to the necks of his model friends, this lead to the opening of another door to the world of haute couture (Jean-Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Lacroix). He then applied his jewelry making skills to the creation of furniture, decorative objects, mirrors, to finally open his own gallery in 1999 in the heart of the Marais, 11 rue Ferdinand Duval in the 4th arrondissement of Paris.
The pieces of furniture he designs are instantly identifiable, as rigid as they are asymmetrical, looking like they could fall apart at any moment but rock solid and stable at the same time. Van der Straeten’s designs are contradictory, conflicting, heavy and light, extravagant and austere, smooth, textured, dark and gleaming. They represent a new relationship with space which puts into question our own posture, the concept of balance, both the position of the object and the view of the beholder, making it all the more difficult to understand it from a single and unique point of view.
In his gallery, the grand and elegant white space is filled unique designs and limited edition pieces, with strong personalities that clash with each other as though they were in a boxing ring, ready to collide with their surroundings. It is difficult sometimes to succeed in reconciling these entities so charged with their own radiance.
In his creative work, Hervé Van der Straeten favors sketching, the carefree nature of the line, and desire. The choice of material and technique then furnish the idea. This makes each new exhibition an opportunity for him to discover new techniques like marquetry and ironwork, and new materials such as stainless steel, bronze, lacquer, precious woods, crystal, corian, carbon fiber, marble, gold leaf, Dacryl (a type of acrylic glass which, due to its flexibility, allows the artist to be more inventive) that he combines to create exceptional pieces that are simultaneously ultra modern, baroque, graphic and luxurious.
This approach is almost insolent, as his obsession with achieving the unexpected calls for trickery to reconcile the irreconcilable, testing techniques, materials and their intolerances, experimentations, spending hours trying, despite breaks, bruises and tears, to find the ultimate balance that plays on the principles of gravity.
In his workshop in Bagnolet, which he compares to the scenes of a theater, Hervé Van der Straeten uses invisible stratagems and reinforcement techniques that leave no clues as to their complexity, giving the object an acrobatic aura. As the head of a team of twenty extremely sharp and precise artisans, who bring together modern technology and very traditional techniques, Van der Straeten combines the expertise of each to meet even his most extreme demands, with an exceptional attention to detail.
The success of the exhibitions in his Parisian gallery give way to the preparation of new pieces for prestigious galleries that represent him such as Ralph Pucci in New York City and Los Angeles in 2006 – 2007 and the inauguration of his new space in October 2013 in Miami during Art Basel Miami and Design Miami, in an old 2000m² warehouse in the heart of the Art District. The work of Hervé Van der Straeten stood alongside those of Patrick Naggar, India Mahdavi, Paul Mathieu and Eric Schmitt in dialogue with the American designs of Ruben Toledo, Vladimir Kagan and Jens Risom.
In St. Moritz, Switzerland, the Galerie KARSTEN GREVE are dedicating their winter exhibition to the work of the French designer for the fourth consecutive year, running from February 8 until April 19. His pieces of furniture, mirrors and lights are in dialogue with the works of the contemporary artists exhibited in the gallery. He exhibits will include the Nébuleuse mirror, an electric blue anodized piece of aluminum that resembles the free forms of automatic writing, a new version of the Chaos console whose assembly blocks in plum and red lacquered wood illustrate his work on balance, a new variation of iconic light fixtures such as the Pastilles table lamps in gilded brass and white marble and the Volubile lamp in gilded and patinated bronze.
Eclectic in his collaborations, Hervé Van der Straeten has put his expertise at the service of some of the most important luxury fashion house to design items like perfume bottles – including that of the iconic J’adore Dior – and makeup palettes. “There is a precious feminine element to my work, which is present in my jewelry, in contrast to my furniture which is very strong. It is because of this mix of the two that cosmetic companies come to me. I still take the time to make things by hand. For the Guerlain Kiss Kiss red lipstick case, each side is irregular and reproduces the imprint of my fingers on the metal. I carved myself a prototype in bronze. It was then duplicated in the actual size, to the hundredth of a millimeter.”
Hervé Van der Straeten can count, among his main collectors, international designers as well as the Mobilier National – the official supplier of furniture and decorative objects for the French State since Louis XIV. Recipient of numerous awards and honors, he was awarded the “Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant” by the Ministry of Culture in 2007, was appointed Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2008. He contributes, as a part of the Comité Colbert, to the international promotion of the French art of living along with 78 other French luxury houses.
Galerie Karsten Greve Via Maistra 4
CH 7500 St Moritz
Tel : + 41 (0) 81 8 34 90 34
Galerie Ralph Pucci Gallery
343 N.W. 25th Street
33127 Miami, Florida www.ralphpucci.net
Galerie Hervé Van der Straeten
11 rue Ferdinand Duval 75004 Paris.
Tel. 01 42 78 99 99