Meraki is a Greek word, considered untranslatable, for the heart and soul that someone puts into his work. Such as the creativity an artist puts into a painting, the love a cook adds to his dishes, or the passion and dedication of designers for their creation(s). Wanderful.design assesses the passion and the soul of Lauren Van Driessche.
Lauren Van Driessche. 27. Interior architect and ceramist. Her Meraki levels? Pretty high, if you ask us. She welcomes us with a beautiful (!) cup of coffee at her parents’ furniture workshop in Genk, surrounded by her first collection of vases, bowls and dishes. The perfect setting to stay on topic
Her name may not immediately ring a bell, but that will soon change. “She is on the verge of launching her own webshop, and – more importantly – her first design for the Belgian design label Serax.
“Even as a child, I loved to create. In an attempt to mould my creativity into a profession, I opted for a training in interior architecture after secondary school. But with interior architecture comes a truckload of rules. I also wanted to do something that would allow me to unleash my creativity without being shackled.”
“Ceramics seemed the ideal candidate. I love working with my hands, and, naturally, there is also my love for interiors: making your own interior objects is an ideal combination, of course (laughs). It’s also nice to focus on smaller things from time to time, an interior object is very direct. Meanwhile, I have been following the training for four years now and you can find me in the studio of the university of applied sciences every week.”
It is there, in that studio, that Lauren worked on a birthday present for her boyfriend for half a year. “That was very difficult, you know, all those months of keeping it to myself (laughs). But my boyfriend, who is an architect, and I had been looking for the right lighting for quite a while. Since we could not find any, I decided to create it myself. From November 2015 until April 2016, I worked on my present for him.”
The result? A minimalist terracotta floor lamp. With its adjustable sphere, resting on an empty cylinder, you can shine its light in any desired direction. “I find it fascinating to experiment with atypical materials such as, in this case, terracotta, which you would sooner associate with flower pots than lighting. The typical terracotta colour is also a perfect match with white or bright colours. It renders this design austere at first glance, but playful at the same time, and I rather love that.”
Careful consideration and thoughtful deliberation
“The present was very much to my boyfriend’s liking. Later, in the autumn of 2016, he pointed out the design competition ‘Win your own design’ by Serax and Knack Weekend magazine. After a lot of careful consideration and thoughtful deliberation, I decided to enter the competition with the lamp, which by then had found a nice place in our apartment. The unexpected result was that Serax decided to put my design into production. I could hardly believe it …”
Lauren’s Terra Light collection of table and floor lamps is only just the beginning of the collaboration with Serax. . She is already putting her heart and soul into a terracotta sequel. Moreover, come March, you will also find her own tableware collection online. “Bowls, cups, plates; when I go to a restaurant and something beautiful appears on the table, I just cannot wait to take a peep at the bottom to see the label. Because we love cooking and the whole table experience, I decided to design things myself. They were very popular with our dinner guests. So maybe they will have that same effect on other people too …
Describe her style? Lauren finds that very difficult. “At this moment, I think it is a hotchpotch of experiments, though that might sound a tad disrespectful, but there certainly is a common thread: the simple, austere shapes and the playful finish such as specks on the cups, or dents in the vases. I love bringing things together that, at first, do not appear to belong together. This adds a special excitement. Ready-made sets? No, not my thing.”
“The objects do not always have to be functional, I also love working sculpturally. I find it sheer bliss to work for six months on a design I have in mind. Just as with Paperthin, a work of paper porcelain. That was quite an adventure for me: How to translate properties such as the material’s transmission of light into a design? It only made my desire to work with other materials even stronger.”
But there is more lurking from within. The decision to commute between her place in Antwerp and her parental furniture workshop in Genk is not entirely coincidental. “Not only does it feel familiar, Dad and I are also exploring the possibilities of a collaboration. He has been making solid oak furniture for 30 years, often commissioned by architects. We are very curious about what that synergy – his years of experience with that solid material and my more sophisticated style – could lead to. Even though he has no experience with ceramics whatsoever, the subject fascinates him very much. I’ve seen him watching YouTube videos on the matter (laughs). Our designs will be a symbiosis of ceramics and wood. We are experimenting to our heart’s content, trying out new techniques to see just how far we can go with both furniture and artistic objects. If all goes well, you can come back at the end of the year to take another look (laughs).”