For more than 10 years, Belgian designer and manufacturer Milko Brusselmans has been experimenting with the engineering of folded metal plate furniture and modular storage systems which are today licenced to Union N.V. for their commercialization under the series® label. With a definite functionalist stand, Milko Brusselmans seeks an economy between the physical properties of steel, it’s raison d’être or function in our everyday, and the manufacturing cost which makes the product affordable for the consumer.

Designing is not a matter of searching for the beautiful says Milko Brusselmans, “it’s the challenge to create something truly useful, balanced in it’s form and most of all affordable for a broad range of consumers.” As R. Buckminster Fuller once said “When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.” Finding solutions to remain affordable while delivering quality useful material is Milko Brusselman’s primary motivation in design. “Making something beautiful or attractive is by no means my starting point, but the design needs to work as a totality”.

Attention to detail is as equally important to structure when folding steel or aluminum plate. The process of manufacturing folded plate involves heavy machinery which brings enormous pressure to the base material. If the idea is not taking into account the manufacturing process and its limitations, the design fails. “Mass production of something truly useful and of a high quality is a great achievement, but those succesfull designs also need to remain affordable”, says Milko Brusselmans. “When the price of metal started climbing, I needed to find solutions to keep my prices down. I had to find ways of economizing material and labour. This brought the characteristic shape and finish of my tables and benches. Folding heavy metal pieces in a fast production line to cut costs and end up with a well-designed piece is a great challenge”.

Union N.V. is under negotiation for an exclusive licensing agreement with Dutch industrial designer Friso Kramer (b. 1922) for the manufacturing and distribution of the Brinkbank (translation from Dutch meeting pointbench). The Brinkbank was introduced during the mid-sixties in public spaces and came in two distinct versions. The first one which has a deeper back is more comfortable and of a larger size. A more compact version has a lower back and is less comfortable to sit meant for a more dynamic use. It does have a distinctive feature which is absent from the larger, more comfortable version. An outer horizontal platform located at the back has been added for the purpose of “offering the passer-by the chance to stop and interact with the other persons sitting or standing.” Both versions, says Friso Kramer, “need to be covered in humans”. Just as for any other seating which is covered in fabric, “humans are the fabric” of the Brinkbank, as Friso Kramer puts it. Union N.V. is in the process of signing a licence agreement for the distribution of the Brinkbank concrete edition under series®.

In today’s post-industrial society tattoos have become a widespread mode of expression, they are a mass phenomena which echos fashion’s consumerist attitudes. But it is as says Maddy d’Oliveira, “an undeniable positive phenomena because it transcends fashion by marking the individual well below the surface because it is permanent”. “It is therefore a positive move towards modes of expression which seek a deeper meaning”. We asked graphic artist Maddy d’Oliveira to collaborate on the prints for the Spring-Summer 2014 series® t-shirt edition which is composed of 7 works in total. The “skinprint” edition is limited in numbers and signed by the artist’s hand.