The Biennale Interieur in Kortrijk is a prestigious interior design trade fair. Professionals regard it as the sister event to Milan’s Salone del Mobile. The interior designer Robert Kolenik exhibited his signature design style at the fair for the first time in 2013.
Only the very best is on show at Kortrijk. All designers have to go through a strict selection process before they are allowed to exhibit at the fair. Kolenik dared to run the gauntlet of the design committee and dreamt up a design that encompassed an entire living concept. This proved to be a totally new experience for the jury. Impressed with the young interior designer’s ambition, they allocated him an eye-catching position in one of the six halls.
‘Just as it would with a private client, each design starts with carefully thought through interior design advice. You come up with a plan where you really get under the client’s skin. You do your best to understand his wishes, his needs and the situation.’ To optimally showcase his signature design style, Kolenik chose a fully-fledged villa concept of some 180 m2. It featured a living room, kitchen, bedroom and gym facilities. As well as a bathroom with a full wellness area, and domotics to add to the overall comfort. ‘At five metres high, the ceiling was mansion-height, and doors were three-metres-fifty instead of the standard two-metres-sixty. I love voluminous interiors.’
Modern design furniture
In the Kortrijk house, Kolenik also showcased his modern design furniture. His Proud sofa collection is made of natural materials and ecologically manufactured, which makes it highly sustainable. The interior designer also loves to incorporate a design fireplace at the start of a living room design process. ‘A fireplace adds both warmth and atmosphere.’ The chimney is finished in leather from the Alphenberg label. Why does Kolenik opt for leather? ‘A luxury interior is always in danger of becoming kitsch. This leather counters this by lending it an industrial look. It is rawer, also in terms of its finish. It comes from Scandinavia, where it is used as saddle leather. As it is so cold there, the leather is thicker, so this is certainly not a cheap option. But it’s so strong that you can also use it for floors, walls and ceilings. Leather creates a fascinating effect, and becomes even more beautiful over time.’
One of the eye-catchers was the large living wall. Kolenik explains: ‘It’s literally a living wall, full of plants. The plants are supplied with water thanks to an automatic watering system. Depending on where I use it, from the kitchen to the wellness area, it can become either a herb wall or a plant wall. For this, I collaborate with Green Art Solutions, who offer a high level of technical expertise in this area. For example, the walls incorporate an air ventilation system, which captures or filters dust, bacteria and smells and gives off oxygen.’ A living wall is therefore great for the air quality and is greatly prized in places like hospitals and schools.
But the Kortrijk interior also featured a range of other natural materials. These included the bar top fashioned from grey rock crystal in the kitchen and a table support made from the trunk of a lychee tree. In the spa design, all eyes were on the unusual shower, whose base was made from petrified wood that was millions of years old. ‘And because the shower connects to the bedroom, the glass walls around it ensure privacy. It can be made opaque at the push of a button.’