New initiative ÆTHER/MASS launches experimental, expressive and limited-edition objects

7 objects on the border between utilitarian object, sculpture and experiment

ÆTHER/MASS designs, creates and distributes unique and meaningful objects that straddle the line between utilitarian object, sculpture and experiment.

ÆTHER/MASS was born out of a belief in collaborations between designer and maker, and a desire to experiment with materials and meanings. Above all, it is about the joy of imagining and creating, regardless of market logic or trends. The focus is on the creative process and collaborations with artisans, leading to exceptional collections with extreme attention to detail and finish. In this view, ÆTHER/MASS can be seen as a laboratory, researching materials, techniques and semantics.

ÆTHER/MASS is launching seven objects this autumn: a lighting object, a chair, two bowls, and a family of three pedestals (which serve equally as stools or as side tables). The objects have a sculptural and architectural character, creating a balance between contemporary and traditional elements. They are the result of a search for the perfect symbiosis between idea and execution, between theory and practice, concept and object.

ÆTHER/MASS repeatedly searches for the essence of a thing or object. How far can you distort the meaning or function of an object to the point that it loses its function or changes its meaning? Do four table legs without a top form a table? What intervention or detail can you add to give meaning?

The objects are deliberately limited to a run of 12 pieces. This is not a decision based on the idea of making the objects more exclusive, but rather on the desire to continue making experimental, one-off, expressive work. Each piece should be an exploration of the new and the unknown, of innovative materials and production techniques being used in unconventional ways. The satisfaction for designer and maker is therefore in the creative process and in the initial journey of production from concept to final prototype. 

ÆTHER/MASS is the brainchild of Davy Grosemans. Having worked in the design industry for more than 20 years as a product and interior designer, Grosemans is now releasing a number of personal and experimental objects under the name ÆTHER/MASS, which he himself describes as "objects in search of meaning".

For Grosemans, collaborations with makers are essential. The designs only come to life through the material knowledge and technical skills of artisans. Dialogue with makers leads to new insights and new experiments within the studio to produce genuinely innovative designs. Thus, these wooden objects ​ a chair (Parabole Chair), the bowls (Parabole Bowl I and Parabole Bow II) and the ambiguous pedestals (Lathe I, II & III) – were made in collaboration with CasimirAteliers, master woodworkers specialising in high-quality solid wood furniture. The lamp, on the other hand was made in close collaboration with Wim Roggeman, who specialises in high-end custom-made lighting. But ÆTHER/MASS does not want to limit itself to wood and glass and will also collaborate in the near future with other craftsmen in different fields, in order to promote the cross-fertilisation of ideas and experience.

The objects

The wooden objects produced in collaboration with CasimirAteliers are complex in their simplicity, in the way they refer to archetypes and play with volume, mass and form. The banality of their everyday function contrasts sharply with the symbolic meaning they convey. For example, the design of the Parabole Chair refers to the chair's original function as a "throne" and the value that the throne possessed at the time as a symbol of power.

The function of the Lathe collection is ambiguous and very much depends on the interpretation and preferences of the user. Whether stool, pedestal or side table, these solid-wood designs are inspired by the classic turned leg that is to be found under so many different types of wooden table. By deconstructing the table and using only the legs, a family of stools, side tables and plinths is created. Four legs, four surfaces, three functions.

The bowls (Parabole Bowl I and Parabole Bowl II) are also modular. They consist of two identical volumes that together form one bowl. By placing the two parts in different ways, it is possible to create either a shallow or a deep version of the bowl. The bowl's name refers to the distinctive detail created by hollowing out the wood, revealing a juxtaposition between the mass of the material and the negative, empty space of the curvature.

The TwentyTwenty floor lamp is the first object in a collection that takes the glass shapes of the 1920s as a starting point. At that time, a wide range of opal glass lampshades were released, designed to the requirements of scientific lighting and the principle of modernism, where form follows function. One hundred years later, these glass shapes form the basis of a new design, where a ring of polished brass connects two different glass shades.

Images (images here ©Jean Van Cleemput)


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