An Interview With Designer Jens Praet

by Andrea Carloni and Eleonora Spilli – June 2018

Interview with Jens Praet, belgian designer who decided  to work and live in San Gimignano, a beautiful medieval town near Siena in Italy.

Praet studied Industrial Design in Firenze and attended the Master classes at the Design Academy in Eindhoven under Droog Design’s co-founder Gijs Bakker.

Studio Jens Praet works from a conceptual and artistic angle on various topics of contemporary culture, with an intensive approach towards traditional handcrafting in combination with avant-garde techniques. Jens has a strong passion for everyday objects, honest materials, finding inspiration in unexpected details and daily issues which often become the starting point in developing a new concept.

Studio Jens Praet’s work has been exhibited at important international venues and has been featured in many major design publications and newspaper world-wide.

Praet’s Shredded Sidetable is part of the permanent collection of the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh and the Mint Museum in Charlotte.

“After completing my degree, it was fundamental for me to think about ecological and current problems. “

In the Shredded Series documents and throw-away magazines are shredded and transformed into materials from which new objects can be made. Design is a way for you to raise society’s awareness towards current issues?

After completing my degree, it was fundamental for me to think about ecological and current problems. I must say, however, that through the years it has become more important, above all, to give the message that an object must first of all be pleasing to the eye as well as useful.

Interview with Jens Praet, belgian designer who decided  to work and live in San Gimignano, a beautiful medieval town near Siena in Italy.

In the Particle and Inverso series, articles have a form that seems to want stay close to the stereotype that they represent. Is it possible that the project is focussed on the constructive process and on the utilisation of the materials?

The material was fundamental for Particle, particularly to show that it can be transformed from a so-called ‘poor’ material into something new, with a luxurious and elegant finish.

For Inverso (which means opposite) the name says it all. Luxury materials, like marble, are designed in a way that represents a honeycomb. It is often used to provide internal strength to a structure with laminated surfaces – chipboard is rendered visible and elegant.

Interview with Jens Praet, belgian designer who decided  to work and live in San Gimignano, a beautiful medieval town near Siena in Italy.
Interview with Jens Praet, belgian designer who decided  to work and live in San Gimignano, a beautiful medieval town near Siena in Italy.

“Luxury materials, like marble, are designed in a way that represents a honeycomb.”

“I start with the material”

What role do materials play in your work?

I would say, fundamentally, I start with the material, working exclusively on unique or limited pieces. I’m lucky that I can often experiment, and only when I’m satisfied with the material, can I move on to the final part of the design.

Interview with Jens Praet, belgian designer who decided  to work and live in San Gimignano, a beautiful medieval town near Siena in Italy.

In the Evergreen series, developed together with Vibeke Skar, you’ve gone back to the classic objects that belonged to the factories in the early 1900s. What relationship do you have with history in project development?

I have always felt a strong connection with the history of art, especially when talking about design, art, architecture, fashion and seeing that I’ve never been interested in creating dozens of design articles, I thought it would be more interesting to consider Evergreen as a way of paying homage to the classical factory lamp rather than create a new lamp.

Interview with Jens Praet, belgian designer who decided  to work and live in San Gimignano, a beautiful medieval town near Siena in Italy.

“I have always felt a strong connection with the history of art”

” I’ve never been interested in creating dozens of design articles”

Could you describe, in a nutshell, your project management methodology?

As I said earlier, I start with the material and take inspiration from what I find around me. I like to start with simple materials that will become something elegant. The design is always in harmony with the client, given that I always work on artistic and exclusive pieces.

Interview with Jens Praet, belgian designer who decided  to work and live in San Gimignano, a beautiful medieval town near Siena in Italy.

The Shredded series is part of a permanent collection from the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.  More and more designers are choosing to prove themselves along these lines. What do you think this necessity comes from?

The Shredded series is part of the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh and of the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m very proud to be part of these permanent collections in museums around the world, but it was never my specific objective, I believe that this demand comes more from the galleries that represent designer works.

Interview with Jens Praet, belgian designer who decided  to work and live in San Gimignano, a beautiful medieval town near Siena in Italy.