Suspended between sculpture, art and design, the creations of ÆTHER/MASS are inspired by the most iconic archetypes of furniture, translated into contemporary objects of enigmatic charm. Launched by the Belgian designer Davy Grosemans, the project is a platform for collaboration between designers and makers, and now presents its first five collections online, in limited editions of 12 pieces.
“12 is a number of pieces that permits implementation in the final product with as many details as possible, in the hope that those who purchase it will be able to fully appreciate its qualities,” says Grosemans, born in 1976, with a degree from MAD-Faculty in Genk and a versatile background of work experiences, ranging from industrial design to interiors.
“I have always made my prototypes of furnishings and objects; ten years ago, I left the role of the industrial designer to concentrate on interiors,” Davy says. ÆTHER/MASS plays with two opposing concepts, “aether” (impalpable) and “mass,” its direct opposite, indicating a concrete object. “During the pandemic period I had lots of time to work on this project: I felt the urgent need to make things at a distance from serial production, produced in very close collaboration with expert artisans.”
This is how cooperative efforts began such as the one with CasimirAteliers, master carpenters specialized in premium solid wood furnishings, or with Wim Roggeman, a skillful maker of precious custom lamps: artisans who have inherited age-old traditions, all based in Belgium because – as Davy explains – “in this way it is easy to reach their workshops, to get to know them and their work, constructing a relationship based on direct contact. Thanks to this method, we have an intense exchange of ideas between designer and maker, to the point where projects often take on unexpected directions with respect to the original idea.”
In a true form of escape from everyday routine into a dimension of pure ideas, concrete furnishings come to life, as envisioned by Davy for living spaces. From the Parabole chair inspired by the ancient archetype of the throne, a standout in the ÆTHER/MASS catalogue, to the Lathe series of stools, tables and pedestals of different heights, suggesting the tool of the lathe, or TwentyTwenty, a formal synthesis of a group of lamps from the 1920s.
The distinctive feature of the products on the platform is the slow pace of production, in a process driven by research, without time limits, through the figure of the artisan best suited to the type of object to be made. The project assesses the various technical skills of each maker, fundamental factors for the choice and crafting of noble materials that last in time.
“I like to imagine objects that seem to have always existed, pieces in which crafts know-how prevails over the use of technology,” Davy concludes. By request, the designer supplies all the information regarding the objects of ÆTHER/MASS. Once ordered, a piece requires an average of 8-10 weeks for production.