The inspiration Sarha Duquesne and Levi Dethier draw from manufacturing processes is plain to see in their designs. It is precisely the technical limitations involved that drive their creativity. But it is not just the materials or methods alone that shape the expressive qualities of their pieces. Their furniture’s extraordinary practicality is far more grounded in the matter-of-fact way in which the two designers observe their surroundings.
A bookshelf could hardly be more modest. Two pieces of squared timber flank the shelving to form two sides. With its geometric simplicity and down-to-earth take on its own function, the table in the Perimeter Collection is also free of any affectation or structural excess. Quite the opposite, in fact. The stabilising intricacies of both pieces are woven into the details in such a way that you hardly notice them and might therefore be tempted to question the furniture’s structural soundness at first glance.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth: both the shelves and the table are astonishingly sturdy, proving that they are anything but products of chance. The Perimeter Collection is actually the remarkable result of an experiment conducted by Sarha Duquesne and Levi Dethier. They wanted to try their hands at developing a collapsible furniture system and see where it led. So they set about creating a coherent collection using only standard industrial parts.
The results were unveiled to the public for the first time in 2014. Their response to the question they had posed themselves earned them more attention than anticipated. When they appeared at Salone Satellite, the show for up-and-coming designers at the Milan Furniture Fair, the ‘Perimeter Bookshelf’ was awarded the Design Report Award 2014 (with more prizes to follow). The reason? It just blends seamlessly into everyday life, said the jury. This is because the four posts, U-profiles, shelves and screws can be assembled into a stable bookshelf quickly and simply. It can be transported very easily with minimal effort, as it can be taken apart again and flat-packed in just a few steps. The table, a fusion of two trestles and a table top, also draws on the same principle. The two designers assure us that their creations are soon to be mass-produced and aimed at the professional market.
Since ‘LeviSarha’ was set up in Milan, the two founders have launched a few other designs on the market, such as the ‘Drill Lamp‘ table lamp. They have remained true to their approach throughout: “It’s less the material than the production method behind it that drives us,” says Duquesne. “We’re always curious about engaging in new processes and experimenting, and the aesthetic of our objects is often the result of these two things.”
They don’t see the technical limitations arising from their method of working as constraints but rather as motivation to take an innovative approach. This openness and curiosity can also be seen in everyday situations. They are interested in how we deal with objects, with observation being their most important source of inspiration, they say. It lays the foundation for collective creation and forms the core of their formal language: their objects radiate that combination of functionality and sobriety that is so crucial to them as silent witnesses.
Sarha Duquesne and Levi Dethier (both born in 1988) met while studying at ‘La Cambre’, the leading school of design and the visual arts in Belgium. They then completed their Master’s degrees at the Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (Cantonal School of Art, ECAL). Duquesne began her career in Paris at the Galerie Kreo but then went to work with designer Sam Hecht in London. While in the British metropolis, she met Dethier again, who had also ended up in the city at the studio of Spanish designer Tomás Alonso after spending a year with Maarten de Ceulaer. The two are currently working on commissioned pieces, and always fashioning their designs and ideas under the joint label ‘LeviSarha’. With potential producers as customers in mind, they are now working on some interior furnishing objects.