How to transform an obligatory cloister into a moment of creativity? With a "slow" but curious gaze full of ideas

Two slices of carrot, a rusty nail, ginger, flower pistils and other imaginative household items make up a curious portrait gallery, collected in a limited edition volume. 54 + 1 Portraits by Belgian designer Valérie Barkowski tells small stories of humanity, delicate and poetic, starting from fragments found in drawers or stolen from the kitchen during 2020, in the suspended and silent spring of Brussels.

54 + 1 Portraits by Valérie Barkowski

Mama Wemba, Donna Maria, Antoine ... many funny characters who tried to offer a little carefree moments of forced isolation last year and which have now been printed in a book and in a selection of original photographs that can be purchased on the site of the designer. Visionary and creative figure Valérie Barkowski defines herself as a serial nomad, even if “this pandemic has strengthened the will to direct my work towards choices that contribute to creating a better planet. Now I'm working on alternative routes that involve fewer trips, to minimize my environmental impact ”.

Slow by nature - long before the idea of slow living became a movement - developed its attitude to sustainability and authenticity by creating a brand linked to the local artisan tradition. "I can spend hours looking at the hands of an artist: they are hypnotic - recalls the Belgian designer - hands that work the simple raw materials with grace and talent, handing down timeless traditions".

When she arrived in Marrakech in 1996, she was fascinated by the stories of young brides who hand-embellished their trousseau. From here began the research to revive these ancient techniques and the first collections were born. For over 20 years she has been convinced that creating timeless and handmade objects is the way to proceed so that creativity and sustainability can coexist and complement each other.

Photos Valérie Barkowski