Zaventem Ateliers Brings Its Winning Formula to Milan
Lionel Jadot, the founder of Brussels design collective Zaventem Ateliers, has transformed an erstwhile factory on the outskirts of Milan into Baranzate Ateliers, a like-minded showcase of handicraft during the city’s design week.
“I see the world moving towards AI and virtual reality, and I feel this strong urgent drive within me to create a world of real people making real things and to show how beautiful it is,” Lionel Jadot told Surface, in 2019, during a tour of Zaventem Ateliers in Brussels. In the past few years, the workshop has emerged as one of Europe’s most experimental and atypical design collectives, noted for its communal ethos informed by the spirit of Middle Age guilds. Located within a centuries-old paper factory, Zaventem is a creative playground where makers united by their passion for handicraft can come together to share techniques and inspiration; a hive of workshops that functions as an analog, open-source network focused on making one-off and limited-edition objects.
Now, Jadot is bringing Zaventem’s winning formula to Milan Design Week (June 6–12). Taking over the disused Necchi factory in the Baranzate district, a crucial nexus within the Italian city’s industrial heritage, the newly christened Baranzate Ateliers will become a platform to present Zaventem’s philosophy, atmosphere, and designer roster to the global stage. Though the dilapidated site may strike some as rough-around-the-edges or even post-apocalyptic, the convivial nature of Baranzate’s familiar client roster softens the mood. “We’ve curated it with a scenography created by all the designers of Zaventem Ateliers, which allows for a simple and elegant reading of the pieces and the place,” Jadot says.
Among the artists and makers presenting work this year are Zaventem residents Arno Declercq, Pascale Risbourg, and Pierre Coddens. But the occasion also saw Jadot expand his purview and invite other talents into the fold. Notably, the Milanese design duo Studiopepe was invited to present its first-ever collectible design series, which includes a throne-like chair in charred wood, a low table made of layered onyx slabs, and tubular concrete luminaires through Galerie Philia. Across the way, at Everyday Gallery, Jadot presents a dining table and set of one-of-a-kind chairs fashioned from asphalt slabs he sourced throughout Belgium. It joins a pair of plump fiberglass chairs by Schimmel & Schweikle and two foamy, archaeological lounge chairs by Carolin Gieszner and Théo Demans.
The goal, of course, is to offer a glimpse of how Baranzate Ateliers can plant roots in Milan as an extension of its Belgian counterpart and become a crossroads for exchange among the Milan Design Week crowd—designers, architects, collectors, and enthusiasts—who are looking for a mold-breaking approach after two years of disruption. “This meeting is unique because it’s a rare movement when reality meets our dreams, and here we are after eight months of intense work with Pietro Minelli, our local architect,” says Jadot, whose ultimate dream is to recreate the energy of Zaventem Ateliers for Italian designers in Milan. “The city would have a new, unique place in the production of collectible design.”
Baranzate Ateliers (Via Milano, 251) will be on display during Milan Design Week until June 12.