Since 2015, designer Lore Langendries has been a Doctor of Arts, but has long since mastered the artistic creation of contemporary jewellery and objects. With skin and hair. Of animal skins, that is. Captivated by the capricious nature of wildlife, Lore Langendries processes these animal skins using laser cutting technology. “With her own strong, consistent design language, she thinks about the function and identity of a jewel,” was the jury’s praise. Between craft and industry, between uniqueness and reproducibility, Lore Langendries is also a fierce opponent of the design discipline of Object and Jewellery.
The Limburg designer Lore Langendries (°1988) obtained a master’s degree in Object & Jewellery from the PXL-MAD School of Arts, Hasselt, in 2010. And rather than precious metals, she developed a language of her very own. Initially reluctantly, in porcelain, glass and plastic, but only after experimenting with the tanned skin of springbok did she see noble potential. It was in those whimsical skins that she discovered her own story. “I cut out necklaces using a laser cutter. This is an interesting method, in which I initially focused on geometric shapes,” recalls Lore Langendries.
This first Flatbeads series quickly led to her stringing ideas together. As if she could use this method to put the delicate balance between craft and industrial design to the test. It literally became her test piece. What could this balance lead to? That balancing act between past and future, between restrictions and unbridled possibilities? Between ancient crafts and computer-controlled laser cutting? Not to mention that a heavily loaded concept such as “uniqueness” is immediately weighed up against “series”, “mass” or nimble “reproducibility”. This is an intriguing domain, and in the world of jewellery, even casting pearls before swine.
The Limit of Reproducibility
While she was still testing the limit of reproducibility in what you could call her first artistic cycle, she was also looking for more room for experimentation. As a winner of Toegepast 16 in 2012, for example. She then used this “springboard for artistic talent” of Design Platform Limburg (the de facto predecessor of Z33’s current FORMAT) to develop new, free work. She made her mark with adaptations to classic apothecary bottles. “Back then, the layering of jewellery was something that intrigued me very much, so I started working with those big brown apothecary jars. For that matter, glass still continues to attract me. That’s how I have been dreaming up ideas for perfume bottles for ages,” she says mysteriously. “If only to get away from that hair.”
Because whichever way you look at it, Lore Langendries is invariably associated with cuddly jewellery. From brooches and buttons to necklaces, it really gets under her skin. It is crystal clear that she managed to develop a craft in that laser cutting of hides of cows, sheep, springboks and even wild boar. The métier transcends practicality. More than just operating some computers and lasers, it is also about intuition. The feeling, a tradition in which an artisan’s approach, or at least an emotional approach, starts to dominate the design process. The métier enriches the oeuvre. From then on, also the other way round.
Talente 2013, the curated showcase at Schmuck 2014 in Munich, really put her in the international spotlight for the first time. The impact of this trade fair is not to be underestimated. For Jewel, of the same order as the Salone Internazionale del Mobile (Milan Furniture Fair): an international appointment with the latest of the best. Lore Langendries’ painstaking work immediately captured an audience. With and without a story. Never pulled by the hair. It charms and leaves room for discovery. Everyone can figure it out for themselves, and even discover deeper layers.
With increasing international interest in her artistic expressions, the term “Hunacturing” was also becoming increasingly common. With this portmanteau word, Lore Langendries captured so much more than the concepts of Human, Nature and Manufacturing. She uses it to interweave various dimensions of humans, nature and their mutual relationship. From how we handle animal materials to the contrast between controlled and natural production. This progressive insight led the unleashed talent to string ever more pearls together.
In 2015, she was included in the exhibition for the Mari Funaki Award, presented by the renowned Australian Gallery Funaki, and where Schmuck had previously put her in the spotlight in Talente; now all the tracking spotlights really are turned on. “The precise impact of this? Difficult to name. You do feel that all of a sudden, connections are possible, because suddenly, everything that you didn’t think was possible happens to you. Contacts with gallery owners, for example. People who in turn bring curators.”
The splendour of fur and tableskin
Lore Langendries refers, for example, to Antidorcas LL 1601, a duo exhibition that she was invited to fill with the famous German designer-artist Gésine Hackenberg at Galerie RA in 2016. In turn, this Amsterdam gallery opened up new doors. It also led to exciting projects such as Holstein LL 1401, a modular installation in which she extracted 366 brooches from a Holstein cowhide. “That was a media narrative,” she says of it. “To this day, people still talk to me about it. For some reason, the Holstein hide has introduced me to a wide audience here at home.”
Holstein LL 1401 was a noted collaboration with LECHAPERON Unlimited by Vicky Janssen with a very clear design. One cowhide, with 366 round cutouts, provides a unique and numbered brooch. Each time a brooch was sold, a photo of the wearer was put in its place. Lifestyle, you know. With Holstein LL 1401, Lore Langendries certainly seemed to take the bull by the horns. As if a new story followed with the completion of her PhD. A new cycle even, with the doctorate as a free pass.
“At least I felt less pressure back then. Call it a relief.” With more room in her head and heart, she eagerly lavished herself on the energy released through new collaborations. “Starting a project with others takes away the pressure on yourself for a while, and strangely enough, you start to enjoy creating your own work again.” This period also includes the cooperation with Kortrijk textile manufacturer Verilin.
This interaction with Verilin stems from the cross-pollination of Hands on Design. The eighth Design Triennial, in which one or more designs were based on crafts or craft products. It led to Tableskin, a picnic tablecloth in which Langendries sought the limits of Verill’s jacquard loom by having it imitate a pattern of hairy roe skin. “No animal hide has ever been translated into textiles before, and we managed to convert the pixels of a graphic file, based on a photo, into a collection of table linen and bed linen,” it is said. In 2018, this Tableskin collection received a Henry Van de Velde Award in the Design-Led Crafts category.
Hiding the Fragment
While her work made its own way through galleries and exhibitions, Lore Langendries herself began working as a manufacturing lab manager at Mia-H, the Hasselt fashion incubator for accessories. In that machine park, she mastered the laser cutter like no other, but on top of that, she also immersed herself in many other design and manufacturing tools. By focusing on supporting workshops and other talents, she also expanded her own artistic horizon.
In the Hiding the Fragment series, for example, she remains indebted to “Hunacturing”, but pushes the unconventional fusion of the mechanical and manual, the natural and artificial, between unique and serial even further to the limit. With more emphasis. “The natural hair directions, but just as well the unruly hairs or specific colour variations, that in itself is no different from what I was already doing, but it became so much more interesting the more I reveal or conceal, depending on how close you are to the skin.” It is not that she only cuts, burns or engraves boldly with that laser; no, beard trimmers and scissors of all kinds also provide a cut perspective. She adds a new dimension, as it were, as if it now transitions from jewellery or an object to a three-dimensional chamber ornament, or from a necklace to a mirror necklace. Bigger as a gesture. A sign of things to come. Subtle and tactile. And anyone who buys a work gets a special comb as well. It breaks through the jewel or object and appears to be in line with what they call Neotenic design. Deep, but above all tactile. Once again, the international gallery circuit reacts with wild enthusiasm.
Empire State of Mind
In 2019, she was part of the Finding Dodo presentation at the Christina Haubs Gallery in Munich. In this group show, she encounters not only the work of Märta Mattson, Marion Delarue, Jelizaveta Suska, but also an artistic soulmate. With Finding Dodo, the designers jointly transcended the Schmuck context, and it even took them to the New York City Jewelry Week, where they presented together again. This was followed by another new presentation in The Jewelry Library and the wrong Lore Langendries in what can be called an “Empire State of Mind”.
Until COVID-19 cut that journey short and the world was called to a halt. “The Handwerkmesse in Munich: cancelled. A nomination for the Young Artist Award of Art Jewelry Forum: no response. An appointment with an American gallery: postponed. Exhibitions in Lisbon, but also at home: at risk. It was a great big spanner in my works. Literally and figuratively.” She could have extracted so much out of the bear’s hide.
The activities of the Mia-H fashion incubator also stopped, although first the machine park and then Langendries’ expertise were transferred to PXL-MAD. It changed her outlook on life and work. Yes, of course, there are galleries from Melbourne to Montreal and Lausanne to Seoul. Advocates of her artistic drive. But she can’t please that world, which was so prone to her tactility, with the same tact and remotely. Fortunately, she has mastered the gift of sophisticated self-communication from the very beginning of her career. This ranges from graphics through rigid typography to her own product photography and management of socials. That photographic documentation, in particular, is an underrated talent. Just try that out. A hair in front of the lens usually guarantees a headache.
Under own Management
In addition to her own management and providing the galleries with her work, Lore Langendries also links a dual task in education. For example, in addition to her role at PXL-MAD, she also teaches Art in secondary education, but fortunately, this does not put her off guard, although it does make her think. “Doubt is inherent to creativity, but it is still so difficult to weigh certainties against the uncertain artistic future. Many independent designers will recognise that.”
Once again, Langendries sought cooperation, as if it were a cure. This time with Rayah Wauters of Atelier Nauwau. It is as if seeking the hustle and bustle as a result of a new project leads to overpressure, ironically enough, to revive one’s own artistic momentum. She still wants to be cryptic about that project with Rayah Wauters, but it will mean high peaks and shearing wild boar. You can count on that even now. The soulmate relationship is of the Finding Dodo type. Closer to home too. In the COVID street or state.
It must be said that the recognition of the Henry van de Velde Awards jury has not come a moment too soon. At a crucial moment even. Because happiness never comes alone. As a fresh-faced mother, she takes each day as it comes and draws energy from small things. This Young Talent Award is therefore a clear recognition, not a pep pill. Lore Langendries is beyond the breakthrough. This is a benchmark. Of a new cycle.