The Belgian design scene is vast and diverse. Belgian institutions are always at the forefront of supporting the people, new projects and products that make our country dynamic and unique.

published on 13.10.2022

(Re)discovering History with Unfold

The Belgian duo Unfold, who were named ‘Designer of the Year’ five years ago, are continuing their unique exploration of design through digital design and under the spectrum of history. Between their collaborations with the luxury and beauty industries, they are inaugurating the final chapter of their ‘Atlas of Lost Finds’ project, which is taking them to the Amazon.
We met Claire Warnier, co-founder of the studio with Dries Verbruggen, who explains this adventure.

You co-founded Unfold Design Studio twenty years ago. What stands out from your experiences so far?

Our dynamic has evolved since 2002 and our work has improved considerably when it comes to precision. Over the years, we have found a balance between projects for the general public and other more experimental projects that works for us. We evolved in the Dutch creative tradition established by Droog Design, which linked the conceptual and the industrial, and our studies in The Netherlands, at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, taught us to retain our autonomy and defend our artistic vision with clients for marketing and commercial purposes.

Tell us about the genesis of Atlas of Lost Finds and your work to safeguard indigenous artefacts?

Before we started this project, we were in contact with a scientist from the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, who spoke to us on a regular basis about the digitisation of items from the institution’s collection by the museum’s laboratory: palaeontological and classical archaeological items and remarkable artefacts and works from Amerindian civilisations. In 2018, when the museum burned down in a fire, 18 million items out of 20 million were lost. We contacted him to find out what he was going to do with the scans of these items. In order to bring these lost collections back to life through digital design, we launched the Atlas of Lost Finds call for projects on the Wikifactory social platform, which makes it possible to begin production in a collaborative manner. The first file that we gave free access to was the scan of a Peruvian Filideo stirrup from the pre-Colombian Chimú culture (1,000–1,470). This project was launched during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and, thankfully, we were surprised by the general enthusiasm! More than 30 international designers have joined us on this adventure. The result of these experiments can now be viewed online on the Atlas of Lost Finds website

Read full interview

"We offer an artistic approach to artisanal, industrial and stage design, from manufacturing to distribution, with a link to social issues or the history of objects. In the early 2000s, we were initially interested in how we could transpose digital creations into the real world. This was not so easy at the time – 3D printers were expensive and just emerging, as were open-source machines."

Claire Warnier and Dries Verbruggen (c) Ringo Gome

Claire Warnier and Dries Verbruggen (c) Ringo Gome

Atlas of Lost Finds, is an itinerant creation that uses digital technology to design (or redesign) historic items that have been completely destroyed or altered, in order to keep their memory alive and convey the knowledge that goes with them. 

Skafaldo is the result of a collaboration between design studio Unfold and additive manufacturing specialist Materialise in which automatically generated support structures -a feature normally discarded in the process- becomes the focal point of two new pieces.