"It is natural for people to refer to my work as organic because it uses the curve profusely – and curves, is what we see in nature. At a closer look however, my curves are not from nature. My curves come from geometry – they are either a circle or an ellipse, or a section of either or a combination of these sections. I do not draw free hand. I use abstract geometrical shapes, converging in such a way to make a chair comfortable – no more, no less. Therefore, my product is minimalist." mvr.

DESIGNER

 

Marc Van Rampelberg was born in Aalst, Belgium in 1949.

 

Raised in middle-class post-war poverty Belgium, Marc was discouraged from attending the art academy and took a degree in teaching, graduating in 1971 from the Teacher Training College in St. Niklaas. But the longing for adventure that had led him to consider life as a clown, dancer and monk, projected him to teaching posts both in Zaire and Kenya, where he spent six years as a volunteer teacher.

 

Marc drifted back to Belgium for four years, where he immersed himself in the contemporary art world, meeting, living and working with great artists, especially sculptors.

On New Years Eve 1980, Marc returned to Africa, taking several months to travel through Egypt and Sudan, he finally made his way back to Kenya. There he met his wife Chelenge, with whom he has three children, Rosie, Naomi and Rik.

 

While working as a full-time French teacher at both the German school and UNEP, Marc picked up his furniture-making hobby again. What the family needed, he made, beginning with a cradle, followed by a bed with side tables. Creating his pieces on his own, in the evenings and over the weekends, Marc noticed he was designing all his furniture in a singular style. The defining aspect seemed to be a desire for 'oneness', where the different elements would flow into one another as if the object came from a single mould.

 

With the absence of any formal carpentry training Marc decided to engage a professional carpenter, the late Mr Simon Kadie. Inside the workshop of Antique Restoration and Reproduction Limited in Industrial area, he rented a room of 5x5 metres with the use of its heavy machinery. Some nine months later, a second carpenter, Mr Godfrey Onunga, and a polisher, his brother-in-law Mr Izekiel Kiplagat, joined the team. Together they produced one-off pieces that were neither for show nor for sale.

 

Eighteen months later, on April 11th 1987, Marc exhibited the collection at the Goethe Institute in Nairobi. It was a success, it was a sell-out, and a change of profession! Shortly afterwards, he took over the entire workshop with its core of twelve very skilled employees.