Laurid’s Gallée perfects the process

For Laurids Gallée, a creative career was written in the stars. He comes from a family of artists, and – despite rebelling against their influences for much of his childhood – now turns his hand to designing objects that have a distinctly artistic edge.

In 2015 he left his native Austria for the Netherlands and took a place at the Design Academy Eindhoven. The school is known for pushing boundaries and encouraging students to think about design and its context – guiding the careers of some of the most impressive creators of the day, from Formafantasma to Martin Baas. It seems that it provided that for Gallée as well, who made the decision to go to design came after a short period of studying anthropology. You could argue that the two are more closely related than you would believe at face value. After all, anthropology is the study of people and their behavior, while design creates the world in which people live. Although for Gallée it was a desire to work in a practical sense rather than having his “head in books” that inspired the change. After his degree, he honed his skills in many production techniques and crafts, before founding his own studio in 2017. Now, from Rotterdam, he creates works that explore the possibility of traditional techniques when combined with modern materials and production processes – but always with a feeling of sophistication, and never without concept.

His latest works (pictured above) have been collectively titled “Empyrean”, and come in the form of softly glowing lamps. “The Empyrean was believed to be a heavenly place in the highest of the heavens, occupied by the element of fire,” he explains. “The warm glow of the ceiling lamp Empyrean suspended 01 pays tribute to this antiquated concept.” On the occasion of the launch, we caught up with Gallée to find out about his journey into design, his plans for the future and how he came to create the empiric pieces.

Can you tell me about the process of creating the empiric light?

I worked with resin production for approx. 4 years, and created art and design for many of the well-known contemporary designers who worked with the material. The interest in resin goes back to my student days at the Design Academy, but I always thought that the designers who were busy with it were only scratching the surface of what these materials have to offer. Casting resins are incredibly versatile since you control everything; color, translucency, surface finish, the entire feel of an object can be easily dictated.

It’s the ultimate tool if you’re interested in shaping an object from scratch and don’t want to rely on the aesthetic properties of natural materials. For years I went to the workshop to observe how the material behaves under different lighting conditions, and more particularly how the form interacts with the internal reflections.

What was your first memory of exploring creativity and what path did you take to get to where you are now?

Almost everyone in my immediate family is an artist. From my grandfather to my parents, as well as my aunt and uncle, they are all artists. I was exposed to their creative practices from a very early age. Although I rejected creative practices for most of my childhood, this influence of my family is undoubtedly what eventually paved the way in this direction. As with so many others, it just took a little nudge to make me go there.

For me, it was studying anthropology that made me realize “there’s no way I’m going to put my head in books for the rest of my life”. Then I got to see what creative studies I could do. Design just felt most accessible at this point in my life, so I applied to the Design Academy, and when I arrived in Eindhoven I immediately felt like I was in the right place.

“Almost all my work is a direct result of exploring different materials and creating processes”

Was there a moment you felt you found yourself as a designer, in terms of your aesthetic or process?

I’m not sure I’ve fully found my own aesthetic yet, and there’s a good chance I never will. What I think I’m really good at is being interested in the process itself. Almost all of my work is a direct result of exploring different materials and creating processes.

You could say it’s a certain kind of game until eventually it becomes very interesting and then it becomes work for the short period of producing a piece. And after that, the process repeats itself again. However, I would put my work into two different categories; it’s all material-based work, and then there are my drawings, some of them also made on the objects I make. As playful as they are, the drawings feel a lot more like hard work to me. I’m incredibly critical of them and often have to chew my way through dozens of attempts until I’m only marginally satisfied.

What things do you look to for inspiration and what influences your work?

I don’t really look that much at what other designers are doing, I can find more inspiration by looking at the history of applied art. This can be anything from typical Austrian painted peasant furniture ‘Bemalte Bauernmöbel’ to Japanese woodblock prints, but I would say that most of it is work that involves some sort of figurative illustration. For my resin works I don’t look at existing work at all, I try to let the material dictate the process.

What does it mean to be a designer in 2022? What do you want to do through your work, and what do you aim for?

My work is completely based on personal fascination, but it is definitely important to me to convey a sense of surprise or wonder through my work. I feel it is important for my wooden works to remind someone of traditional craftsmanship, that it is clearly visible what this work is built on, at the same time that it is undoubtedly placed in the present. At best, it should function as a kind of bridge, a traditional/contemporary hybrid, embracing both, the future and the past.

The resin pieces can also have this effect, although in a completely different way, where materiality light and color become the defining element. In the near future I would like to create something like large-scale installations, maybe something more interactive. I really don’t see my practice as limited to just the world of furniture design. This happened to be my gateway to making stuff up until now.

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