Henry van de Velde label rewards innovative design
Every year, Design Vlaanderen – the Brussels-based organisation promoting Flemish design – honours innovative and clever products with a Henry van de Velde label, named after the Flemish architect, artist and designer.
17 products receive prestigious quality label
When talking about design, we instantly think of furniture and home interior. But in this year’s list of Henry van de Velde labels, children’s toys made a surprise appearance. Scoppi is a yellow-green shovel from the Quut toy range, designed by the Ghent-based agency Pars Pro Toto.
“A couple of years ago, we designed a collection of baby items for the brand Hoppop,” says Johan Bonner, a partner at Pars Pro Toto. “We also took care of their entire branding – from their catalogue to their website and their stands at baby fairs.”
The agency realised there was a lot of potential in the children’s toy market and was eager to design something from scratch. “The toy market is vast,” says Bonner, “but we narrowed our focus down to one item that seemed to have no brand, was usually made in China and had a very low innovation threshold – the plastic shovel.”
Pars Pro Toto gave the cheap beach shovel a make-over, turning it into a sustainable and stylish product. The company launched the Scoppi shovel at the Nuremberg baby fair in 2013. “We’re now selling the Quut beach toys range in 10 countries,” Bonner explains. “To receive a Henry van de Velde label is really important for us; I don’t think toys get this kind of appreciation often. Since we’re an unknown brand, the quality recognition of this label will help us grow as well.”
To expand the brand, Pars Pro Toto will need to broaden its distribution network. “And that’s why we joined Flanders Investment and Trade,” Bonner adds.
Design with a twist
While some designers have to wait years to receive a van de Velde label, others see their hard work rewarded almost instantly. “We only launched into furniture design in 2011,” says Fien Muller, half of the Ghent-based design duo Muller Van Severen.
The idea was to combine two seats
Muller is a photographer and her partner, Hannes Van Severen – son of the famous designer Maarten – is a sculptor. “While renovating our house, we encountered some electricity problems, and we came up with a solution in the form of a table with a built-in lamp. When the Antwerp art and furniture gallery Valerie Traan asked us to provide some furniture for an exhibition, we also applied the idea of that built-in lamp to a leather seat.”
The two of them took their newly found furniture project to the Kortrijk interior design fair in 2012. “Curator Lowie Vermeersch asked seven designers to think about future primitives – furniture of the future to suit our primitive needs. We came up with a range of designs, which also featured our Crossed Double Seat,” explains Muller. “The idea was to combine two seats – not adjacently but opposite to each other. This resulted in a cosy but sleek-looking construction, made from leather and steel.”
The Double Crossed Seat was awarded with a Henry van de Velde label. “A big surprise,” Muller says. “We’re new to this sector, but we can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
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