Thibeau Scarceriau

Glass, X-Rays, Metal

Antwerp, Belgium

Interview

thibeauscarceriaux.com

@thibeauscarceriaux

Taboo and discrimination, impermanence and functionality, art and design. Thibeau Scarceriaux, an emerging Belgian designer, creates a world that somehow blends all these ideas through his thought provoking object design. Scarceriaux continuously pushes the boundaries of furniture and its ability to create meaningful dialogue in the modern world. We spoke with Thibeau about his journey to becoming a designer and how he makes these projects come to life:

Tell us about your background and what led you to becoming a furniture designer?

I started off studying chemistry, but then shifted gears towards game design, but that didn’t work out because I was so bad at programming. Then, I found my way into industrial product design and furniture design, because of my parents’ passion for vintage furniture. But there were no jobs in Belgium in furniture design during the Corona period. So I thought let’s start my own design studio because I needed to do something with my free time. And then I started creating my own objects and then now we’re here. So it’s always like a little bit further. It’s like ok, this doesn’t work. Let’s go to the next step. Let’s go to the next step. Eventually, I get to where I am now. So it’s all based on luck I think.

You interned for Sruli Recht towards the start of your career. He’s known as a very cerebral designer in many spaces, from menswear to object design to installations. How did that experience influence your work?

The single biggest impact on my work. I come from an industrial product design background and it was very product focused. So you have to think about how to make an object to sell. The first day I came to work for Sruli, he said to me I can choose 2 subjects to make an object around. One that I chose was suicide and we worked around that concept. It opened my eyes that you can create objects that are truly meaningful and more than just an industrial product. It’s the big influence that pushed me to make more taboo related objects.

You’re a multifaceted creative, coming from both a photography and industrial design background. What about furniture design allows you to express yourself better than any other medium?

Functionality is key for me. I appreciate art, but when it serves a purpose, it adds another dimension. I find value in objects that are not just visually appealing but also practical. Whether it’s something used daily or occasionally, the fact that it serves a function gives it significance. It’s about the balance between aesthetics and utility, making it the most effective way to convey a concept.

We’ve noticed all your work is made up of glass, mirrors, or metal? What drives you to use these materials and how do they tie into your storytelling?

I didn’t want to use glass because it’s so difficult to work with. You have to use special glue and it’s very heavy and hard to transport. But for some reason I’m always drawn back to it, maybe because I love the patina of glass. I always like to make objects that are reflective in a way because you can see yourself inside of it and reflect about the subject. So in every installation or object I do, there will always be a mirror or something to reflect yourself in it.

Let’s talk about your War Chair. Could you walk us through the journey from ideation to creation?

I was commissioned by a museum to make that piece actually and they wanted the theme for it to be “Childish.” So I thought about this game that me and my brother played in the woods called Oorlog, or War in Dutch. You pick up little pellets and shoot each other. It was so innocent but also serious at the same time. Around the same time, the war in Ukraine started so I wanted to incorporate my feelings into this work. I sourced bulletproof glass from Germany and called up my friend with a gun license. It was really risky because there was no structural system to keep it stable after shooting but it all came together. After shooting it, we glued everything together with UV glue. People don’t think it’s functional but it’s perfect safe to sit in. All the bullet wounds are on the outside and if you put your hands on it, you can still feel the lead inside of the glass.

Did you encounter any major setbacks when working on this project?

For a different chair, the first chair I made when working with glass. I finished gluing it together and after three months I heard a very loud bang in my home when I was sleeping. I came down as saw the chair just completely fell apart. It turned out the glue was over 10 years old at that point. But as always just hope that everything is okay and just test, test test. Prototypes, prototypes, prototypes, and hoping for the best.

Can you talk a little about the materials you used for the War Chair or other glass experiments?

I used UV glue for the War chair but it all depends on what kind of glass you’re using. You can also use Seashell glue or HXTAL. It all depends. Even on factors like is it layered glass or is it hardened glass? You can even use silicone based glues and they all work as long as you do your research.

We first discovered you through your X-Ray Series and were instantly captivated. How did that idea come about?

Ah yes that was very strange. So I started collecting x-rays at flea markets around Belgium. I ended up with around 2000 square meters of x-rays in my home and starting thinking about what to do with it. Around the same time, there was the Black Lives Matter movement happening in the States. I took notice of that and it just kept marinating and marinating inside my head. Eventually, I thought about x-rays as these very contrasting black and white objects. And also they’re made up of these bones and structures that make it very hard to see that anyone is a different kind of person. So it was this perfect coincidence in my mind to combine these two ideas to explain that all people are the same on the inside. The special thing about this collection is that it has a built in storytelling aspect. Because of the material, during the day the object is just like a mirror and has the reflective aspect we spoke about. But at night, it becomes an object created by the skeletons of tons of different kinds of people. And when you put a lamp behind it, it almost comes to life. Not to mention, it’s still functional to use every day as well which is why I created the tool and little lamp to go with it.

What was the actual creation process like? How did you manage to fuse the x-rays into the glass?

It was actually a difficult process to get the sheets of x-rays inside the glass because they start to melt if they are heated up too much. So I started researching workarounds and other forms of layered glass. I ended up working with two manufacturers of layered glass and they tried tests with the x-rays and it just didn’t work. In the end, I found someone who specializes in layered glass for cathedrals. We did a few tests and it went perfect and ending up creating the whole collection then.

How does this series tie into your story as a designer?

I especially like this project because all the x-rays are of people I don’t know at all. I scratched out all their names because I don’t want to have these images of them in my head or that kind of personal connection. But it’s still amazing to see that they’re all different kinds of people from anywhere and in a way feels like I created a person. What’s most important to me is that it is a great conversational starter at a fair or exhibition. They have a look and we can start this whole conversation about racism and connectivity. I think that’s why I create objects, to start these conversations and have people break these taboos.

Finally, could you give us a preview of what we can expect out of you in 2024?

I recently created the fragile collection for Polestar which I’m really proud of. They’re made of a very thin glass that speaks on fragility as a human. I’m still working on a few more objects for that collection right now. For the future, I have one object which I’m starting to marinate on. It’s about waste materials and uranium waste inside of the world. Hopefully, I can make an object with that for next year and see that come to life. And finally, I’m working more and more with a mirror factory in Belgium and experimenting on objects with them. So that’s the plan, more little objects coming soon for 2024.