Seriously, a chair? Aren’t there already enough... ? “To design a really great chair is quite difficult, and we thought it was a challenge we had to take up. Besides, we wanted oúr chair.” Thus, mission accomplished. Incidentally, stoel.01 is more than just a chair: it is the crystallisation of their work process. "We do everything ourselves and together, here in our workshop.” (Just like this interview, which took place with all five of them together.) “From drawing to finishing: everything passes through five pairs of hands.” You can take that literally since they love working with their hands. "We made up to 10 prototypes of the chair; sat on each of them uncountable times. We constantly discussed, tested, refined and changed. Making this chair was a slow, careful and organic process – which we enjoyed very much." Their cooperation has grown in the same way: “It was never our dream to become a collective; it just happened.” The result are objects bearing the signature of all of them - the author is vormen.

The collective consists of Edouard Devriendt, Jochen Schamelhout, Leon Duyck, Aaron De Keyzer, and Emile Duyck - all between 23 and 29 years old. Each member of the team has their own experience making things - some have been schooled by a bronze caster since their teens, followed evening classes in wood- and metalwork; were trained as art handlers; studied architecture or art history; others crafted their own furniture. Their diverse and multi-layered backgrounds are deeply embedded in vormen’s DNA. They all share a love for objects and crafts, and are dedicated and passionate about research and learning. "We’re constantly trying to push our limits. We learn by doing, through trial and error.” There you have it: vormen’s signature approach.

Vormen collective in their studio, with Litho lamp and XYZ table, Stoel.01 and 1Mlamp.
How stoel.01 was made, is typical of the Ghent-based 5’s methods. "We try to make the objects we want with our limited machinery and joint skills." In those restrictions they find their strength. It has led them to their unique designs that change throughout the course of the creative process. “When we meet our limits in terms of knowledge and skills, we go out and learn, or we look for alternatives. The idea for our ‘Litho lamp' took shape while Leon was working for a stone mason. Before that we had no idea how to do it, now we do.” Same for stoel.01: “We wanted to make the chair hover... Since we hadn’t yet mastered the art of bending wood, we made the seating so fine it bends when you sit on it. A fine steel plate with thick saddle leather provides firmness. It also creates a visually interesting combination of 'warm' leather with 'cold' steel.”

“Take your pleasure seriously”, they like quoting Charles Eames. “It is a primal human urge to create something tangible. Creating something with your own hands, gives satisfaction.” Just like Eames, vormen have turned their pleasure into their work. For now, they embrace their limitations and take pleasure in learning and finding alternatives. They follow their own rhythm and hit the market in their own way: for a couple of months they have had their own showroom in the heart of the city. This has allowed their first fan-base of design and art-loving enthusiasts and fellow makers to grow, which creates new challenges: "If the chair becomes really successful, we’ll have to see how we can meet the demand. We’ll see how to manage in due time.”

Curious? vormen is taking part in the BAD Belgium Art&Design at ICC in Ghent, 16 – 19 February. You’ll find the vormen shop in Hoogpoort 13, Gent, Belgium (open every Saturday 10-18:00, and on demand).

production process of stoel.01
Vormen workshop in Ghent
All images by Richard Duyck.