For young designers, of course, it's a good opportunity to attract attention.
That's true. They also receive more respect and from this point of view they have it easier today than I had 15 years ago, when I graduated from design school. On the other hand there is also a total overdose of information - above all when it comes to young design. There are also a lot more young designers than in the past. And this increase in quantity has not, unfortunately, led to an increase in quality. I see a lot of young design which I find simply boring. I'm afraid that for many young designers the image factor is the main focus, and not the product. But I don't want to be too negative about this. There are also lots of good young designers. But in spite of this I'm not sure if this publicity has so manyadvantages, because the quality of the publications which are involved also plays a major role. When I exhibited eight years' work at the Salone Satellite in 2000 I suddenly saw an elderly gentleman lying under my aluminium bench. When I asked him in surprise if I could help he stood up and gave me his card: it was Terence Conran. At the time you would find major producers looking for talent at the Salone Satellite. I doubt whether that's still the case today. Instead the media presence has increased.
Okay, let's begin at the beginning: how did you start your business?
As I said, that was 15 years ago. At the time the only option I had was to produce small editions of mine on my own initiative. Things were really difficult. Working with metal processing firms wasn't easy - at least in Belgium. When you told them you were a designer they would raise their eyebrows and look at you as if you were a freak. Nobody thought that you could earn money with design. As a result I worked in my own little workshop. That was great experience, because I needed to and was able to decide every operational step for myself. In spite of this, after four years I decided to change my strategy. After all, I wanted to design things, not produce them. I was spending far too much time on solving technical production problems. Shortly after taking the decision to concentrate on design I had the idea which would later help me to make my big breakthrough, namely folding aluminium in this special manner. That was great, because for me it was the perfect result of the way I looked at design.
PicNik for Extremis, 2002