Whenever Ward Hermans, the designer behind Fer & Dubois starts designing something he almost always ends up with the combination of iron (=fer) and wood (bois). Fer & Dubois has the cutest saloon tables, so we felt the urging need to find out more about this brand.
Ward is a busy man, combining his work as a designer with a part time job as a teacher in the Erasmus Hogeschool Brussel. But for this interview he was kind enough to spend a little time with me. I took him to the Cultural Centre of Strombeek were an exhibition is running about young Polish Art. The perfect atmosphere to get to know his young label.
ILB - Can you tell something about your background and where you grew up?
I was born in and raised in Diest were I developed a strong interest in sculptures at a young age. The natural choice for me was to study sculpture in the Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent. The conceptual and philosophical character of this study got me interested in philosophy so that I took up a study in Philisophy after I graduated.
ILB - How did you end up in the field of designing?
I didn’t always have the desire to make functional design, it actually came naturally. After studying philosophy, I wanted to work with my hands again. This is when I learned how to work with wood and furniture. In the meanwhile I started experimenting with iron on my own. A friend offered me the possibility to work on my furniture in his atelier, but in the meantime I have my own atelier (laughs).
ILB - Do you always stick to saloon tables and what is your fascination with this piece of furniture?
One day when I was visiting friends, I fell in love with their Willy Vandermeeren ‘Boomerang Table’, a Belgian architect from the fifties. He made interior elements with the objective to cheer up living rooms with colour. This experience really inspired me to build on that same concept. But I do not only design saloon tables, I also make other furniture and I recently started working on my first accessories (cushions).
ILB - Can you say something about your work process?
My little squared saloon tables are the product of collage techniques. I started making these tables ordering a big plate of natural wood on which I would start experimenting with all sorts of forms and colours of formica (a sort of laminate).
ILB - Unfortunately the interview is not taking place in your design studio, but can you tell us a little bit about the look and feel of your atelier?
It really looks like a wood workers’ atelier with a woodcutter and all kinds of wood processing machines. This is where I realize my designs, but I never design my products in my atelier. My inspiration comes naturally when I am at home or riding the train for example.
ILB - What is the biggest challenge at this moment for the brand Fer et Dubois?
Right now I still can handle the production on my own. But I’m planning to extend my assortment and the distribution, so the challenge is going to be to find other ways to produce my furniture.
ILB - And of course our last and favourite question to end with, why do you love Belgium?
Obviously I love Belgium because of its design. If you look at the international design and art scene, Belgium is highly represented. There is this indescribable strong creative vibe among Belgian artists that makes Belgium so different.
ILB - I think we managed to find out what we wanted to know, thank you for sharing your thoughts!
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