An exploration of materiality in fascinating furniture and sculptures.

Antwerp-based Belgian designer and craftsman Ben Storms pushes raw materials to their limit and beyond in order to create fascinating objects and sculptural furniture. The son of a stonemason, he uses natural and simple materials to create his work, including marble, glass and steel. He blends centuries-old techniques and modern technology to put familiar materials in a new light. A skilled stonemason, sculptor and woodworker, he also employs cutting-edge techniques to bring his creations to life. For example, CNC milling and 3D scanning used alongside hand-sanding and polishing.

Ben Storms’ work always explores materiality as well as unexpected forms. “In my practice as a designer, I push materials to their boundaries, often questioning common notions. Does marble always have to look heavy? Can steel look soft? By creating shapes that verge on the impossible, I confuse the viewers, make them lose their balance briefly, and stimulate them to look at familiar materials with a fresh eye,” says the designer. His In Hale and Ex Hale series showcase this perfectly.

Inflated metal, cast glass, and organic marble.

Made from solid marble, copper, stainless steel, enamel, glass, nickel, or brass, In Hale looks like a giant cushion, despite its solidity. The inflated metals and carefully shaped marble or cast glass defy the viewers’ expectations and preconceptions. This design comes in both a table version and a wall decoration. Ex Hale features a cushion-like base that makes a marble top seem like it’s floating above the floor. To create this design, Ben Storms uses the same materials, but in contrasting combinations. For example, stainless steel or copper with light or dark marble.

The Twin Mirrors explore the same cushion motif, in black marble and stainless steel. While the steel mirror distorts the reflected objects, the marble mirror reflects the surroundings through a dark haze. Finally, the In Vein table series the designer explores the classic trestle table typology. In his distinctive style, he subverts the archetype with an ultra-thin marble top that from a distance looks like metal or another material. Challenging notions about the weighty feel and solidity of marble, the table looks light as a feather. Regardless of material, finish, or shape, all these designs look like art pieces that would look at home in a gallery or a living room in equal measure. Photographs © Ben Storms.

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