biennale interieur 2016: the 2016 gathering celebrates the event’s 50th anniversary and its 25th edition with the theme; ‘silver linings – interior’. established in 1967 with the first fair held the following year, the idea for the biennale interior was to present contemporary innovations in home and interior design for the general public, and not just for professionals. from this moment onwards, the kortrijk, belgium, based-event has challenged the general laws of traditional lay-out and stage design for interior fairs like this.

(from left to right) joris kritis, kersten geers, richard venlet and david van severen (far right)




OFFICE kersten geers david van severen (OFFICE) are the curators for the 25th edition of the biennale interior, and have taken the ideals of the event further this year. the architecture practice has been involved in the fair since working on the kortrijk xpo expansion from 2007 to 2009, introducing a new lay-out plan to provide visitors with a much clearer system and an immersive experience. for the 2016 event, the curators, working with visual artist richard venlet and graphic designer joris kritis, have created the theme title; ‘silver linings – interior’, which highlights the focus on interior spaces and design.

OFFICE KGDVS’s silver lining construction’s exterior




to find out more about their involvement in the 2016 biennale interieur and their focused idea of showcasing the importance of interior design, designboom spoke with one of the event’s curators david van severen of OFFICE kersten geers david van severen.


designboom (DB): can you outline how you and kersten geers became the curators for the biennale interieur and what it means to be part of this special 25th edition?


david van severen (DVS): first of all, it is a very special biennale, not only because it is the 25th edition but also because we know that there is a long list of past curators who have been and are very important. for the interieur, they have always chosen and made very precise curators and decisions to ensure every edition is something new and even more special. we found that being asked to be the biennale interieur’s curators was a strange question. this was because they not only asked us to be the curators but to design the curatorial structure of the event. we understood this as a two-fold question because in 2009, we did the renovation work and created the new master plan of the whole site of the kortrijk xpo, and at the same time, we had continuous encounters with the design world. from that perspective (our involvement with design practices) it seems like a normal question so we said yes to them, and are still happy we did so.

the ‘silver lining’ exhibit features a silver draping that guides visitors around





DB: OFFICE kersten geers david van severen has had a long history with the event, due to the xpo expansion, what motivates you to continuously be involved in the biennale?


DVS: I think it is one of the most major fairs and is the closest one to our profession (architecture). in the past, there has been architects as the curators for the biennale interieur, and so we join this list. I have a strong and long relationship with the biennale. I have been coming to the event since I was a kid, and remember it all very well. in a weird way, I always think of it in a good feeling but, looking back, I did find it quite confusing. so in a design sense, we were wondering whether we could make something that was clearly readable and understandable for everyone. that was our approach as curators and designers, and is closely linked to our renovation and expansion works on the site. we have developed a fascination for this type of complex and buildings, and so we understood that we didn’t want to make anything fixed or final because it is a fair – and that took years to achieve.

OFFICE KGDVS renovated the kortrijk xpo from 2007 to 2009




DB: could you explain more about the biennale’s theme of ‘silver lining – interiors’ and why this is so relevant in the present day?


DVS: well ‘silver lining’ was chosen by the biennale to celebrate the 25th edition and 50th anniversary of the event. we actually came up with the title of ‘interiors’ and that is important for us as the curators, designers and architects. this is because interior design is something that is fully aware and has an intrinsic relationship between a chair, table and the space around it. that is a very simple example but it showcases exactly what interiors are all about. the word interior is the literal translation of interieur which is the original name of the biennale. by just translating the words in english, we wanted to emphasis this notion and type of design work.

the event now uses a five grid system




DB: the biennale has always strived to exhibit design differently, how will this year’s event push this idea and challenge further?


DVS: I think from a curator’s side, a lot of this is out of our hands and is more commercial, but there are aspects between the curatorial and commercial parts that are happily interwoven. this is in the sense that we drew a layout of the fair around a few main axis that have a clear visual impact and rigorously follow what we want visitors to discover in the complex. it has this five grid system that is across the complex. this was followed rigorously and literally, and draws central lines through the fair. by doing so, you get this street and avenue system, almost like in an american city system. people can read the fair in a different way, as if there are many different houses. inside each one, there is an interior so it is just like lots of homes. the perfect building takes the size system very seriously so we can get many different size groupings.


we gave invited guests a brief of what are interiors for you and considering the size system, how can you tackle this notion in the most open way possible. we invited six guests that are, as we speak, preparing their contributions. they have actually made clear interiors that started with the space and what their ideas were. whilst working, we have obviously had some contact with the participants,  and  overall we came to a very interesting and diverse idea of what is an interior.





DB: finally, can you tell us more about your ‘silver lining’ construction for this year’s event?


DVS: first of all, there will be a very festive atmosphere at this special edition of the biennale interieur, and the ‘silver lining’ construction is very literal in that it will have a silver draping, guiding you around it. as well, the interior rooms are made from corrugated steel plates so visitors will get a real sense of silver. in this color and in contrast with surrounding exhibits, it will help everyone stand out and showcase the creator’s interpretation of interiors. then it is up to visitors to walk, discover, think and question the designs.

joseph grima and space caviar’s ‘theatre of everyday life’ for SQM in 2014
image credit delfino sisto legnani




stayed tuned for more coverage of the 2016 biennale interieur, which runs from the 14th to 23rd october, on designboom and have a look back at the award-winning innovations exhibited at the 2014 edition.

miyazaki chair factory/atelier vierkant exhibit in 2014
image credit filip dujardin


minale maeda objects exhibition in 2014
image credit filip dujardin