Galia Zanato's account of Collectible Brussels - the last design exhibition that managed to take place in Europe before the pandemic and universal quarantine abruptly ended all public events Days before the declaration of the state of emergency due to the coronavirus, we returned from Brussels, where our curiosity and research drive had taken us. We visited Collectible Brussels - an ambitious venture founded in 2018 by two ladies - Cleli Debou and Liv Weissberg, the first with experience in the field of contemporary art, and the other - in the world of communications. Apparently, attracted by the growing interest in design on the part of people who have collected art up until now, the two ladies have decided to try their hand at already established institutions such as Design Miami or the world-traveling exhibition NOMAD. The name Collectible Brussels not only clearly indicates who the exhibition is aimed at, but also defines the design objects as collectible.

Design for collectors - what is it? At first glance, the answer is simple - the two founders of Collectible Brussels answer like this - "it breaks the barriers between art and design and supports the freedom to choose a hybrid". With this simple explanation, Collecti ble Brussels invites galleries, independent designers and museums to exhibit their new discoveries and gives a platform to young authors to show their achievements.

As it is a field that is very close to art, each edition of Collectable has a collective of curators who take care of the selection. For the third edition, the choice is made by a selection committee of authoritative figures in the world of design, among whom are the director of the MAD Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris - Olvier Gabba, the director of the University of Arts in Lausanne - ECAL Alexis Georgakopoulos, and Annalisa Rosso, director of the famous design magazine Icon. All people and institutions with great authority. The choice of the place where the exhibition is held, apart from the fact that it is the center of Brussels, is not particularly impressive. This is the modern Vanderborgh building, built in 1935 and having 6000 sq.m. area of five floors. The modernist-style building, with large storefronts and open spaces, currently hosts art and design events and other cultural forums. Unlike NOMAD, which every time looks for a specific environment, no less special than the products on display, here we have a completely anonymous atmosphere, in the spirit of the industrial age, and this for me is a point of conflict. The design objects shown are at odds with the idea of industrial progress. In this environment, part of their poetics is lost. Beyond this slight remark, there were quite impressive projects such as – Todd Merril Studio, Galerie Gosserez, Maniera – Barcellona, Benjamin Poulin - the son of Pierre Poulin, Hannah Jarlehead Hivin, Anne Jacquemin Sablon, Camp design gallery….

This exhibition, as well as the current situation, raise questions about the future of design, about its connections with art, about how an item can be defined as a collector's item and how we, the Bulgarians, could be part of these global cultural processes.

WAREHOUSE is particularly sensitive about this topic. As you probably remember, the exhibition Progetto domestico by Vincenzo De Cotis that we organized in 2009 was the first project of this now world-renowned designer, whose works are part of the Carpenters workshop gallery collection. The following year, again at the WAREHOUSE, the Belgian curator Isolde Pringirs presented Design Lab - design objects created according to the project of famous Belgian artists in the field of contemporary art. SKLADA was created in 2008 precisely with such an inspiration. This is how Bulgaria was completely in step with the times and many architects, designers and sensitive people were inspired by these events and became our friends and like-minded people.

From then to this day, now 10 years, things around the art-design scene are constantly evolving. It is safe to say that there has been something of a global boom in the last five years. Of course, the main centers remain Milan, Paris, London and New York. Brussels, as it were, distinguished itself as a place for young talents to appear. This also applies to the field of contemporary art. And while in art works can be ephemeral, type installations, performances, etc. in design, objects should and can be touched.

This probably makes them particularly attractive to collectors. Design objects, according to one of the leading figures in this field - gallerist Luisa delle Piane, are bought by people who have passion, have an attitude. They are not an object of investment interest /as often happens with art/ but are an impulsive act of falling in love. She calls these products - adventures, finding new languages of communication, poetic visions. And here's what Andrea and Simone from the avant-garde Dutch studio Formafantasma say - "We're not interested in creating new things, but rather stimulating reflection on objects, looking for alternative ways to create them."

Design has long been associated not only with the rise of industrial production, where it originated. The most important thing that can be said about him is that at the center of his attention is the individual - the individual. Design is that connecting plate between individual human activities, which is able to translate on an individual level any scientific technology or philosophical thought. In this sense, it is part of every creative process. I dare to say that design helps us live better, not because it creates useful and convenient things, but because it creates them through the poetic, through the philosophical, through the narrative of the incredible.

Because it embodies the unique nature of each person, giving it the necessary importance and presence.