Design Icon ‘Corpo’ – Raf Simons

  • Words

    Christophe De Schauvre

Every other week, together with Sjiek / Het Belang Van Limburg, we present a Limburg design icon, or one that is well on its way to becoming one. This week it is Corpo by Raf Simons.

WHAT: A series of accessory cabinets with four upright metal tubes “dressed” with different materials.

YEAR: 1991

Raf Simons (° 1968, Neerpelt) is well known as a fashion designer, but actually trained as an industrial designer. When he graduated from SHIKV in Genk in 1991, he presented this “Corpo”: a series of storage cupboards in the shape of a corset. Four upright full metal tubes with threaded tapes were each decorated with different materials: refined leather, metal mesh and even one with chain mail. It embodied Simons ’dormant desire for fashion.


“Corpo was presented as a fashion collection, in a row just like on the catwalk. The metal rods made it look like models with very long legs, ”said Jan Boelen, artistic director at Z33 and classmate of Raf Simons at the time, when the Corpo was part of the Form exhibition in 2016. Although the student Raf Simons had to do an internship at a beer crate manufacturer, he managed to work at Walter Van Beirendonck. A revelation. “I remember how Raf came to school with stories, for example about the Paris show of Martin Margiela, but he also always had collection samples with him …”, says Casimir, another classmate and today a gifted furniture artist. “Thanks to Raf’s acquisitions, we must have been the best dressed men in school when … ever.” That time at Van Beirendonck is definitely a turning point in Raf Simons’ career. As an hourglass is turned upside down, it was only a matter of time until his heart would fill itself with fashion.


Hugo Duchateau – a teacher at the time – also once referred in an interview to the switching moment at which the student Raf Simons seemed to throw the corset of furniture design aside and started to explore. Although. Corpo was awarded prizes and the anecdote wants Raf’ parents Jaak and Alda Simons to be taken apart by the director for the graduation ceremony to learn firsthand that their son would win the province’s first prize. Something that should absolutely not come to his attention. “Otherwise he will be “ribbedebie” and then we make a fool out of ourselves. Just make sure he comes forward when asked.” ”Reluctantly Simons would climb the stage and the international fashion scene in the same way.


Although he immediately wanted to pass on the grand prize of 25,000 Belgian francs to father and mother, they saw it as his earned wages and support to look for the direction he actually wanted to go. That road already pointed towards Milan, but apart from a small gallery where his furniture was displayed, he never got there in the gallery of honor to leading producers genre Cassina or Cappelini. In the meantime his heart was completely filled with fashion and he was eager to study at the Antwerp Fashion Academy. Head Linda Loppa, however, showed him out. Not because she didn’t believe in him, quite the contrary. Rather from the reasoning: you don’t have to learn, but do… What he did, with his own collections and up artistic direction from Jil Sander to Dior and Calvin Klein, to where he stands today. Maybe again closer to Corpo than ever. Because, in the final analysis, that thesis was a prelude; on the tight straitjacket of fashion, in which Simons went through everything. Filled with fashion, furniture and art, he might once again turn the hourglass upside down.

Corpo also has its own instagram account @RafSimonsCorpo