Wanderlust is consuming us at the moment. Our mind’s eyes are whisking us away to the places where our feet cannot, and we’re here to help supply the imagery. This week, we’re mentally in Belgium, observing the architecture and design of one of the country’s finest, Renaat Braem (1910 - 2001). Having grown up in Belgium at the height of the art deco era, Braem’s attention to the decorative — but prescriptively simple — details marks his architectural practice. This careful balance is something akin to very few others practicing architecture at the middle of the 20th century. If, however, Le Corbusier comes to mind here it’s because Braem worked for (and undoubtedly absorbed from) his Paris studio just after graduating in 1936. His young mind was acutely impressionable to the minutia of Le Corbusier’s design process, which is why we see such similarities in terms of volume proportions and experimentation with materiality.
The two homes shown here we feel represent Braem’s aesthetic succinctly but thoroughly. The first is the Alsteens House in Oversije, Belgium and the second is Braem’s own home in Antwerp. At Commune, we tend to align ourselves with designs that employ unexpected colour and unusual material combinations, but that are restrained in their careful placement of each. His home kitchen is perhaps the holy grail example of this and we’re big fans.
The last image shown is of a chair designed by Braem. It’s fascinating to see the connections and contrasts that appear between furniture designs and architectural designs from the same hand. In this instance, the balance of shades and expressiveness of form relate directly to the curves and tonality in his architecture.