Belgian design: One man’s ceiling at ReStore in Liège

1483 eclectic sourcing has led to a sort of salvaging philosophy.

“I need to work every day. There are so many materials that were difficult for me to buy when I was young. And then I found a way to do it and so it became a constraint and a philosophy.”

What’s more, working with up-cycled items has made Pailhe expand as an artist. He used to make a living doing lighting for cultural events and festivals and the basic equipment was recovered from somewhere. Now, working out of his home with his partner Jessica Berger, Pailhe has two other shops in Liege that specialize in lighting and, of all things, jewelry. In fact, his work in jewelry is the reason he has been approached by the organizers of Design September, whose focus is on just that this year.

“As a painter, and a man, I never would have imagined myself making jewelry. I didn’t even know what it was. Actually, the material helps me do something else.”

Another freedom for Pailhe is the fact that he has all the necessary machinery and know-how to do everything from beginning to end. This means he can save on the expensive cost of outsourcing, so that the price is affordable for customers while staying true to the principles of design.

“We are lucky to be able to do it all ourselves and have whatever we need at our disposal: the conceptualization, production in our own workshops and selling in our own shops. People, more and more, are required to be able to do everything themselves so it’s a luxury for us, even if we work 15 hours a day, to be able to manage everything from A to Z.”

Perhaps the greatest thing about Pailhe’s design philosophy is that he is not protective about his work. In fact, he even shares it with other artists through Open Source.

“None of our products in the store or in the workshop are protected.  We even try to make our designs available. For me, it’s an obstacle to have to protect something. I feel much freer if I know that every day I have to reinvent something, recreate or remake something, than to think about whether I’ve been copied.”

Is he worried about being taken advantage of or losing his business to copycat creators? On the contrary.

“It’s neat to live the experience of what sharing is, what the collective is, how it works, than to think negatively and, most of the time, the negative doesn’t exist, it’s immaterial. What is the risk? I don’t think about what that might be. If I’m copied, it’s just more publicity.”

“I’ll have started a trend,” he said, and grinned.