By Adrian Madlener
PERPENDICULAR PLANES OF ceramic tile, salvage wood, galvanised steel mesh, and semi-translucent glass are held in place by aerated concrete blocks, bolts and steel anchors. A LED tube runs beneath this piecemeal composition to illuminate each element’s idiosyncrasies. ‘This is Your House’ by Arnaud Eubelen is a melding of found industrial debris pulled from the gritty streets of Brussels. The name of the piece clearly suggests that these disparate fragments might very well come from a home in that city. While the glass pane and ceramic tiles appear to be vestiges of an outdated bathroom – something out of the 1980s – the building blocks could have come from the home’s core structure.
The lamp is part of young Belgian designer Arnaud Eubelen’s ongoing ‘What’s Behind’ series, a collection of works that employ light to accentuate the layered textures of repurposed construction materials that he sources and combines. Precision-made mesh inlaid windows interact with crumbling cast concrete slabs and HVAC air vents. This clever interplay of meticulous detail and rawness alludes to the popular saying “Hard on the outside, soft on the inside”. However, Eubelen’s mash-up approach to sculpture and object-making defers to no such obvious hierarchy. He intersperses clean-lined interior products and architectural elements with rough building components that might otherwise hide behind pristine walls and floors.
Operating somewhere between art and design, Eubelen creates sculptural yet functional works that reappraise these often overlooked elements and reveal their decorative value. “He’s a real scavenger who roams the streets at night,” curator Alice Stori Liechtenstein describes. “He quickly creates these systems of elements and even pulls parts off other pieces to create new ones. His approach is not explicitly ecological, but reflects a generation of designers who have metabolised the fact that reuse and recycling are now a given. His work is about using materials that might seem cheap in different contexts so that they might seem luxurious.”
Liechtenstein first came across Eubelen’s work at the 2018 edition of the Collectible design fair in Brussels. He has since gained a lot of traction in the collectible design world and has had two solo shows at Victor Hunt Gallery in 2020. ‘This is your House’ is currently part of Liechtenstein’s ‘Split Personality’ exhibition, on view until 6th February at New York’s Friedman Benda gallery. The survey show explores how different objects can mutate to express personal or political meanings that go beyond their first intended functions. This piece is a perfect example of how this can occur, playing with the cultural value we place on certain materials.
Arnaud Eubelen – works in the no-man’s land between sculpture and design.
‘Split Personality’, curated by Alice Stori Liechtenstein at Friedman Benda.