Rotterdam is the Resin Capital of Design, and Laurids Gallée is Its Latest Star
Laurids Gallée was born to a family of artists, but it would be years before the Austrian native would be swayed to join their ranks. “At first, I completely rejected creativity,” he admits. “Everybody else had normal parents — the dad was a police officer, the mom was a doctor. I thought that was fantastic.” Still, he recalls, “I received a passive education. I knew what this was all about before I even started.”
Gallée, who left Vienna for the Netherlands at 23 to study at the Design Academy Eindhoven (“I changed my mind about art at around 17 or 18,” he says), is now thoroughly entrenched in the Rotterdam design community, both helping to produce work for other artists and nurturing a burgeoning practice of his own.
Much of the designer’s early work casts new light on little-known techniques, some of which are nearing extinction. A collection of wall-mounted cord lamps, commissioned by Vienna Design Week, was the result of a collaboration with a Viennese workshop specializing in the production of passementerie, a type of ornate garment and furniture embellishment that rose to prominence in 16th-century France. A series of decorative screens, called Paravent, combine traditional craftwork with contemporary laser-cutting technology.
Another project, Patras, borrows from the past, as well, but with a personal slant: Prompted to create a design befitting the theme of “legacy,” Gallée produced a collection of lamps obscured by curtains of hand-dyed polyester threads. The series was inspired by a life vest that hung on the wall at his grandparents’ house, a relic of his grandfather’s history in the German army. “You wouldn’t know it was a life vest, though,” Gallee says, “because my grandmother made a cover for it out of completely different fabric. This led me to create a functional object with a purpose — but one where you don’t really know what that purpose is.”
Gallée’s most recent work, a collection of furniture made of colored resin, represents a step in a different direction. For one, working with resin is a process with which he’s intimately acquainted — no intensive study of long-established techniques necessary. “I’ve been producing resin work for other designers for a long time as a way of supporting my own practice,” he says. “I feel I could really make almost anything out of this material because I’ve been working with it for so long. In a way, this is the first time I feel I’m actively working as a craftsman.”
The collection also represents a more focused take on color. “Sometimes I’m a bit insane when it comes to color,” the designer says. “I’m trying to become more subtle.”
While the designer names resin as his favorite material to work with to date, despite its non-traditional nature, he’s eager to continue experimenting with others. Deciding what’s next, he says, is only a matter of waiting for inspiration to strike. “I prefer to take an artist’s approach to my work,” he explains. “Right now, I’m going from whatever project interests me to the next.”