Interieur Kortrijk
Interieur Kortrijk

Interieur Kortrijk

Media from Kortrijk, Belgium
The Interieur Foundation is a non-profit association acting in the field of design, product development and innovation. In 1967, the founder members of the Interieur Foundation in Kortrijk (Belgium) were excited by the impossible. One of their aims was to put contemporary design for the home and interior innovations on display for a broad general public and not only for professionals, as was the case with most other fairs. They dreamed of creating a space and an atmosphere that did not obey the laws of traditional lay-out and stage design. The uniqueness of the concept and the increase in international outreach, turnover, number of visitors, number of exhibitors and world-renowned design brands, press articles etc., show that there was a true need for an innovative model for design as a cultural as well as a commercial entity.

The making of a biennial
The ideals that lay behind the establishment of the Interieur Foundation in 1967 were closely related to the motives and ideals behind the student and worker rebellions of the late sixties in France, then in Europe and the US. Unlike other furniture shows, which offered a mixture of old, new, kitsch and design, the Interieur Foundation wanted its Biennale only to promote the latest contemporary forms and creativity in interior design. Moreover, the initiators had much more in mind than pure aesthetics or commercial considerations. The ultimate goal was to encourage a broad public debate, which might lead to the design discipline contributing towards a better world. Unlike other trade fair organisers, the Interieur Foundation immediately adopted the status of a non-profit institution. Interieur took place for the first time in 1968 and will celebrate its 23th Biennale from 20 to 28 October 2012.

Much investment was made in inspired cultural satellite events : a central guest of honour, the Design for Europe competition (since 1970), debates and lectures. Among the guests of honour where world-famous design personalities including :
1968 Simon Mari Pruys (NL)
1970 Raymond Loewy (VS)
1972 Gio Ponti (IT)
1974 Verner Panton (DK/CH)
1976 Gillo Dorfles (IT)
1978 Philip Rosenthal (DE)
1980 Jean Prouvé (FR)
1982 Alessandro Mendini (IT)
1984 Herman Liebaers (BE)
1986 Philippe Starck (FR)
1988 Geert Bekaert (BE)
1990 Andrea Branzi (IT)
1992 Dieter Rams (DE)
1994 Jasper Morrison (UK)
1996 Jean Nouvel (FR)
1998 Rolf Fehlbaum (CH)
2000 Konstantin Grcic (DE)
2002 Michael Young (UK)
2004 James Irvine (UK) & Kirsti Paakkanen (FI)
2006 Alfredo Häberli (CH/ARG)
2008 Jaime Hayon (ES)
2010 Junya Ishigami (JP)
22 Biennials
After twenty one Interieur Biennales, the list of the guests of honour and members of the jury of the Design for Europe competition reads like a 'Who's Who of the design world'. Elsewhere in the meantime, at trade fairs or in museums, the approach to design was mainly from a single point of view, either commercial or cultural. Interieur emerged, clearly striving towards a symbiosis of culture and the strictly commercial, to become the ideal platform for the world of design. All too often one forgets that the difference between design and everyday furniture lies in the fact that design is a focus where the commercial play of supply and demand merges with the very latest developments across a range of sectors. Most of these take root in the cultural field - art, architecture, environmental planning, philosophy, sociology and psychology, the media, marketing, music and fashion.

Worldwide recognition
The fact that the Interieur Biennale, awarded with the European Community Design Prize in 1994 and the European DME Design Management Prize in 2008, gained worldwide recognition as a shining model, is due to several factors. Not only the extremely strict criteria imposed on the selection and the quality of exhibitors, but also the fact that for each new Biennale, the layout was entrusted to an architect and the coordination to a design critic (Jan-Pieter Ballegeer, Moniek E. Bucquoye, Marc Dubois, Max Borka, Farida O Seery, Dieter Van Den Storm) whose task it was to strive for synergy within the diverse amalgam of commercial and cultural interests. Against all rules of the game, the layout of the exhibition and all graphic work is changed for every Biennale. Such factors may explain Interieur's great public success: around 100,000 visitors attended the recent Interieur events.

As journalist Brigid Grauman stated in the Financial Times in 2008 : 'Interieur still stands out among the plethora of design fairs around the world for the quality of what is on display and for its originality of presentation.'

Growing and leading
Kortrijk Xpo's exhibition halls have grown with Interieur over the years - from one hall (4.000 m²) to six exhibition halls (40.000 m²), with the new Rambla added to the complex in 1999. However, this has not been sufficient to cope with the growing number of applications. Candidates who satisfy the quality requirements of the selection committee are reluctantly rejected, while many others are allocated much less stand space than would do them justice. In spite of the fact that temporary pavilions are added to the complex as a last resort for each biennale, the Interieur Foundation is not in a position to extend the scope of the Biennial any further. Precisely because the Interieur Biennale would never be able to satisfy the ever-growing demand for stand space, would-be exhibitors were submitted to extremely strict requirements covering the construction of their stand as well as the specific collections on display. Moreover, the fact that the best of furniture design is assembled in a relatively small and convenient site, where it is easy to see almost all the leading businesses and innovations in one day, remains the most important secret behind Interieur's public success. The Interieur Foundation has grown through strategic decision-making: never change a winning concept, grow slowly but surely, look after your customers, evaluate the definition of design day by day, encourage the mix between economics and culture, and try to understand the market.

In 2009, the foundation announced a brand new event, 'Design at Work', focusing on innovation, product development and design. The organisation of the first Belgian Design Awards (2008) in the categories: care, communication, home, leisure, mobility and work, was an instant success. An exhibition entitled 'Solutions for the ordinary-extraordinary' displayed products, materials and services for the future, new brands, creative solutions for tomorrow, products that entered the market recently, prototypes and talks and workshops on the future.