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Dimitri Jeurissen

Published on 25 Aug 2021

Dimitri Jeurissen - Base Design Co-Founder talks with Orior on his admiration for architecture.

Q: Occupation?

Today I am considered a creative director of Base but I am also the founder and I am also trying to push boundaries for our company and continuing to grow in the sense of inspiration, activities, and expertise.

Q: City/cities where you live?

I have been back and forth between Brussels and New York City since the late ‘90s. I don’t have a place in New York anymore, but it’s lovely to live in Brussels when you travel. You’re 1.5 hours from Amsterdam, 1.5 from Paris, 2 from London and 1.5 from Cologne. It’s very well connected and that’s why it is very pleasant. You can go to a meeting in Paris in the morning and come back at night.

Q: Does anyone live with you?

My wife, Gina and I have three sons who are 22, 20 and 14. They do still “officially” live with us, but really the oldest lives and studies in London and the second one now lives with his girlfriend.

Q: Apartment, house or something else?

What’s funny is that when I was living in New York I was trying to buy a house and I didn’t know if I had to stay or not so I couldn’t decide. Real estate is real estate in New York City, even after 9-11, the prices weren’t going down. On a week I was here in Brussels I decided to buy an industrial building, a big loft, for nothing. That was also one of my motivations to come back. So for ten years we had we had this big loft that felt very New York, but in Brussels. My three sons were small at the time and it was very comfortable. But when kids grow up they want their own space so we moved out of the loft to a house that is 5 floors high and in front of a park. It is pretty big. That’s the advantage of Brussels -- you can still find amazing places for affordable prices.

Q: What architects, interior or product designers do you admire, and why?

Being Belgian, I went to a school created by one of the modernist architects Henri Vandevelde. I liked modernist architecture, the classics” Corbusier, The Bauhaus school. In Belgium we have extremely interesting contemporary architects that have been influenced by that trend. Kersten Geers & David Van Severen, who have a great practice here in Brussels. Also, Xaveer De Geyter, a Belgian architect. There’s a group called Rotor that are all about upcycling, and a guy called Pierre Lhoas who did my house and my loft and I really like his work.

I like certain designers that develop interesting products or furniture pieces, or objects. And a lot of them are classics like [Ettore] Sottsass, Dieter Rams, [Achille] Castiglioni and the Bouroullec Brothers. But I also admire an Indian architect called Studio Mumbai, it is a great practice, they do great furniture. I did an exhibition two years ago with a French designer named Stephane Barbier Bouvet – he is very much into industrial upcycling. I love his humor and the way he works with objects. And also, and this is very very different, but Wharton Esherick was a woodworker in America – I like the way that he looked at materials and really transformed them.

Q: All Orior pieces have names, but if you could choose a name/rename your Orior piece, what would you name it and why?

Patsy Dan Rodgers, because it was the last King of Ireland. There is something very royal about it -- you could see it in a big castle in Ireland.

Q: Give us three reasons you chose the Atlanta Sofa? What about it appealed to you?

It’s classic, a little bit out of proportion and eccentric because they decided to do it in bright blue. I originally hesitated from a size point of view. When I saw it in the showroom it was big but when it comes into your house it is even bigger.

Q: Where does this piece live now?

It is the living room, which is the 4th floor of our home, and it was such an adventure to get it there. We had to air lift it through a balcony.

Q: Does it have any super powers or secret features not obvious from a picture?

It is a room on its own. You could get lost in the sofa, on the sofa. Gina loves it because we can both nearly lay in it and not bother each other.

Q: How would you describe your piece’s “attitude and personality?”

Comforting. I have a fireplace next to it, and I know that when I take time and take my books and I go there, it is very comforting and pleasant.

Q: Do you live with any family heirlooms?

I am sitting in my office front of a portrait of my grandfather, and also in front of a big furniture piece that [came] from the textile shop of my grandfather, which was in a city called Hasselt, where I was born. It’s a counter - on which you would roll out the fabrics to show and roll them back up – with a lot of drawers underneath.

Q: What do you wish you made more time for?

For the moment, after the year we had, I want to take more time to travel. It was so much a part of what I did in the past, but I don’t want to travel with the same intensity as in the past. Travel is still a source of inspiration and fun and discovery. I love great hotels and I love great restaurants and I love to travel in that sense. This summer I leave on the 9th and I take the car to Paris, then Lyon then south of France, Marseille, and then to Arles to see the new Luma foundation.

Q: What city or cities has influenced and/or inspired you the most? What specifically is it about these cities that so influences or inspires you?

I’m not going to be very original. The two cities that influenced me the most were New York and Brussels, because I had been living in them.

Lately I was traveling to Mexico City, and I have to admit that the city was extremely seductive and I really loved to be there. I loved the local craftsmanship and local industry where they still make objects for their neighbors. They are extremely inventive. I met great people and it influenced me to set up an exhibition, with Fabien Cappello, that opened here a month ago. It’s called Objects of Resistance, 300 objects all about design, craftsmanship and invention.

Orior furniture was created in 1979 by Brian and Rosie McGuigan, who met as teenagers in Northern Ireland, lived in Copenhagen for a couple years, then came back to Ireland where they found the brand.

Q: Have you ever been to Ireland, have family from Ireland, or have any connection to Ireland?

I was in Ireland a couple of times before working with Orior. It has a romantic reputation in Europe. It’s just a short flight, and you arrive on this island, and I think you feel the island aspect when you are there. The first time, I went with my wife, and she was pregnant with our first son.

But when I went to work with them, it was a great experience. Irish people are so lovely and inviting and funny and really joyful. So it was a great experience. The landscape is so green and beautiful, and you walk all day and then end up in a cool pub, and the first thing you see is people playing music. It’s all about story telling, and the people are extremely generous and welcoming and very rooted. There’s an honesty there that I like.

Text by Rima Suqi
Photography by Alex Salinas