Belgium is Design, an initiative of Flanders DC, MAD - Home of Creators and Wallonie-Bruxelles Design Mode, has for ten years now been promoting Belgian design worldwide. Belgium is Design is synonymous with quality and knowledge. Belgium is Design is mainly known for its exhibitions in Milan, its stands at the Salone Satellite, but also for the group stands at Maison&Objet, presentations in New York and Stockholm, etc. In this article we give an overview of some of the highlights of the past decade.

The roots of Belgium is Design lie in Milan. Since its inception in 1961, the Salone del Mobile has grown from a traditional fair with stands, vendors and buyers into the largest design event in the world. It was only in 2006 that Belgian initiatives to go to the Design Week in Milan arose, but this was done in spread order. Under the name [les belges], a joint communication was set up to promote Belgian design during the Design Week.

Belgium is Design

During the 2011 edition of Milan Design Week, Belgian design organisations decided to exhibit in a single location and communicate as one for the first time. They sought a new name for this project, one that was stronger and more impactful on the international stage. In the autumn of 2010, Design Flanders had presented its 6th Design Triennial, which was entitled ‘Belgium is Design’ at the Grand-Hornu museum (Mons, Belgium). Title, house style and scenography were recuperated. In 2018, Belgium is Design was given a new look with a new identity designed by the Brussels-based studio Kidnap Your Designer.

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De hoogtepunten

1. Lightness (2011)

Lightness (2011)

Lightness (2011) © Serge Anton

Yes, for the first time the Belgian design organisations were going to Milan together. On the loggia of the Pinacoteca di Brera, the prestigious museum of Milan, WBDM and Design Flanders presented the exhibition Lightness and Designed in Brussels showed an overview of the 25 designers they had promoted in the past five years.

2. The Toolbox (2013)

The Toolbox (2013)

The Toolbox (2013) © Serge Anton

The exhibition The Toolbox in the Triennale di Milano gave an overview of contemporary design in Belgium, 150 years after the birth of Henry van de Velde. It also dealt with know-how and technical competence, quality of production, work and employment. Curator on duty was Giovanna Massoni, the scenography was by Lhoas & Lhoas.

3. Reflections (2014)

Reflections (2014)

Reflections (2014) © Giulial Acolutti

We stayed in the Triennale. Reflections has two striking components: mirrors and other reflective surfaces, selected by Inge Vranken. And what unites all these examples is their ability to reflect light and images, which appear both literally and casually, in a scenography by Danny Venlet.

4. Confronting the Masters (2015)

Confronting the Masters (2015)

Back in Brera, in the beautiful palace that houses the Pinacoteca and the old Brera Academy of Fine Arts, the ten winners of 'Designer of the Year' took their places, facing the ancient monumental sculptures of the Sala Napoleonica. Confronting the Masters was again a scenography by Danny Venlet.

5. Belgian Matters (2016)

Belgium Matters (2016)

Belgium Matters (2016) © MikkoMikko Studio

Palazzo Litta is hosting Belgian Matters and Belgitude for two years, curated by Siegrid Demyttenaere, founder of DAMN° magazine and partner of the event. Belgian Matters showcases the results of collaboration between thirteen designers and companies, often far removed from the design sector.

“Belgium is Design, or how we can unite and show ourselves at our best at the Salone del Mobile. It is always a pleasure to participate, and a high-level platform to show your work to the outside world.”

Maarten De Ceulaer,

participant Fuorisalone 2012, 2014 and 2016

6. Generous Nature (2019)

Generous Nature (2019)

Generous Nature (2019) © Jeroen Verrecht

After a two-year project, Generous Nature is presented in the Zona Tortona. Fifteen Belgian designers and companies worked together on sustainable design, the forest and its ecosystem. The theme is continued in the scenography, created by Benoît Deneufbourg, entirely in recycled or recyclable materials.

7. Salone Satallite (2011-2021)

Salone Satallite (2011-2021)

Salone Satallite (2011-2021) © Jeroen Verrecht

The Salone Satellite has been the start for many young designers, at the beginning of their international career. In ten years time, no less than 76 designers presented their prototypes on our stand. Their objects were picked up by Belgian and international labels, design magazines, galleries, ...

8. Maison&Objet (2012-2021)

Maison&Objet (2012-2021)

Maison&Objet (2012-2021) © Jeroen Van Belle

2012 marks the beginning of an annual participation in the Maison&Objet fair in Paris. The collective stands will bring together some ten brands and designers at each January edition. The aim is to introduce them to this fair with a good framework and the prospect of concrete commercial results.

"Belgium is Design is a strong network that you can call upon as a starting designer. It gives you the chance to get a taste of international design fairs at a very early stage. Belgium is Design ensures that your work is seen internationally. Without the platform, it is much more difficult as a starting designer."

Pierre De Valck,

participant M&O2020 and Salone Satellite 2020 (digital)

9. Textiles revealed (2019)

Textiles revealed (2019)

Textiles revealed (2019)

In 2019, WBDM collaborated with Lidewij Edelkoort and Philip Fimmano to showcase textiles as part of the New York Textile Month festival. The exhibition Textiles revealed presented the work of eleven textile designers in a gallery in Chelsea.

10. Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair (2019)

Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair (2019)

Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair (2019) © Eline Willaert

In 2018, Belgium is Design participated in Interieur Kortrijk. All the material was recycled and used for our stand at the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair in the Greenhouse section, reserved for young designers.

"Participating in international trade fairs with Belgium is Design gave my brand important visibility. I was able to test my creations in comparison to other cultures and, at the same time, refine my export projects."

Jonas Willems,

participant M&O 2018 and 2019, Stockholm 2019

Under the title Belgium is Design, MAD - Home of Creators organises an annual D2B matchmaking event in cooperation with Flanders DC and WBDM. International and national design companies are invited to Brussels. Young and established designers can present themselves and their products.

Belgium is Design in 2021

As for Maison&Objet, the January 2021 edition was exclusively digital with a presence on MOM, the fair's B2B platform. The selection includes some twenty interior design brands and a varied range of products.

Belgium is Design joined forces with French designer and filmmaker Alexandre Humbert and Giovanna Massoni for the movie The Object Becomes. On the basis of nine objects, they will sketch a picture of Belgian design. The film will premiere during Milan Design Week and will participate in the Milan Design Film Festival and other film festivals and competitions, international design weeks, etc. The Salone Satellite has been cancelled for 2021. But the work of six young designers who would have participated will be shown in the Opificio 31 in the Zona Tortona. Their names are Daan De Wit, Elias Van Orshaegen, Studio Part, Fractall (Arne Desmet), Olivier Vitry for Claisse Architectures and De Angelis Design Studio. This space in Milan will also become a hub for Belgian design from 4 to 10 September.

By September the Belgium is Design website will be renewed. This will be done in collaboration with Kidnap Your Designer, who will also update the graphic design. Whereas the current site only brings you the international events in which we participate, the new website must become an active hub where you can find news about Belgian designers and design companies throughout the year. The social media will also be activated with all this news. Thus, Belgium is Design will become the forum for the promotion of Belgian design.