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How many times lately have we heard about the Heart Day, about saving the Planet, about safeguarding our country. It almost never comes to our minds that it is not the Planet that must be saved — we must save ourselves from the changing Planet. In the search for figures who are taking action in Italy on this topic, we came across Matteo De Clercq, a 23-year-old designer, born in Rome and based in Milan.
His Bounce Chairs are an example of how the reuse of fashion materials can be transformed into interior design elements. The SUEDE Bounce Chair was thus born from the reuse of sweatshirts from our archive with our claim "Fight 'Till Death" printed on — nowadays a loud shout against the current world crisis.
Below, a short interview with Matteo who tells us about his career as a young designer.
Hi Matteo, how did you start this project?
About three years ago I started a furniture design project with the aim of exploring the connections between the world of interior design and that of fashion. The Bounce Chair is a seat that uses a balanced gymnastic ball as its main support. In addition to this, the sphere is dressed with special "covers" made by deconstructing and reconstructing clothing and accessories.
Why did you choose a "balloon" as an element for your first project?
Personally, I have always felt like an outsider in the creative industry, mainly because I come from a rather entrepreneurial academic background having graduated in business administration. This is probably one of the reasons why I initially approached this project as a game, following my instinct, my curiosity and my passion for the design sector. Not surprisingly, I built my first project around a sphere, a shape that recalls the game ball, a familiar element to us all.
I consider the gymnastic ball to be a particularly interesting but relatively unexplored object. Thanks to its ergonomic characteristics, it is often associated with the world of wellness and fitness, promoting a type of active sitting that favors a correct back posture and continuous abdominal exercise.
I say unexplored because today there are many brands that offer the gymnastic ball as an alternative to the classic seat. Nevertheless, the product is characterized by the technical / functional perception we have of it which limits the aesthetic research. My work in fact aims to seek harmony and grace, through the game and the reuse of fabrics, materials, colors and shapes. The Bounce Chair transcends its normal function as a simple fitness object by offering a variety of aesthetic choices. With this project I wanted to raise the concept of wellness to a higher level, proposing a new object that has the right balance between functionality and aesthetics, while reflecting the notion of contemporary culture and today's changes in consumer attitudes.
In the end, I think this idea is a reflection of what is happening within the creative industry, an enormously expanding industry, where more and more frequently we see new products, designed by young people and designed for young people. Hybrid products that are the result of modern craftsmanship, want to leverage important issues such as sustainability and the reuse of materials, but at the same time want to present themselves in a genuine and unexpected way.
Your SUEDE Bounce Chair is your first commissioned work. How did you approach the realization of this project?
Personally, I realized that in addition to being a product, the Bounce Chair was first of all a communication tool for me. Working on it, I discovered the communicative potential that certain objects can have, and how to make the most of them. It is close to the so-called "guerrilla marketing" as the professors would say or the promotion of something in an unconventional way that wants to exploit the surprise effect. At the beginning of this interview I said that I approached this project as a game, after understanding these aspects I began to reflect in a more strategic way. The concept of reusing the brand together with the versatility of the infinite combinations that could be created makes the Bounce Chair a perfect object for communication and sponsorships, opening up very interesting potential scenarios in terms of collaborations and B2B.
At the same time, at the conceptual level I think that the project is perfectly in line with the times: it explores a gray area within the design industry which intersects various disciplines, such as design, fashion and graphics - just to name a few. An area that increasingly interests companies and brands which understand the fundamental role of the ability to offer products that reflect the individualities. We are talking about designing furniture items in a completely different way, with a different communication and for a completely different clientele.
Thanks to it, I was able to understand important mechanisms in the functioning of the sector, but also to build potential dialogues with relevant figures. People that a few years ago I admired, today seem to be much closer than I thought, and this for me is extraordinary if I look at my personal growth.
We are currently working with diverse companies to create a line of Bounce Chairs for the market. It would be a dream, the culmination of a journey that began almost 4 years ago, and a great way to start a new cycle and bring to light the projects I have in my drawer.
Photo by Martina Pavia and Francesco Stabili