Slow living is a trend inspired by growing interests in mindfulness and sustainability – and our growing cultural need to escape from the negative effects of fast-paced digital living and high consumption. Yet how exactly can the design of our interior and exterior spaces interpret this trend and help us slow down?
Belgian design brand Vincent Sheppard’s latest indoor and outdoor furniture collection named 'Lento', Italian for 'slow', teaches us how. (Like the name most directly implies, the collection is all about taking it slow). Ideal for living spaces in residential and hospitality settings, Lento exudes comfort with minimalist design and soft shapes, supports sustainability with natural, crafted materials and encourages seamless indoor and outdoor living with easy durability.
Including a lounge chair, lounge sofa, coffee and side table and modular lounge set, the collection was inspired by Antwerp-based designer Bertrand Lejoly’s seven-year stint in Milan, where he truly immersed himself in la dolce vita. The low-slung, cocoon-like forms, muted colours and materials of teak wood, woven polypropylene rope and comfortable cushions all promote relaxation and a laid-back flow of life. While the refined, pared-back minimalism of each piece is typical of iconic Belgian design – a nod to Vincent Sheppard’s identity and designer Lejoly’s former life as a Vincent Van Duysen director, and current location in Antwerp where he set up his studio in 2018.
La dolce vita
"A Vincent Sheppard piece of furniture radiates warmth," says Coralie Claeys, CEO at Vincent Sheppard. "It invites the user to relax, and feel our passion for the profession and the quality in every product." Particularly characteristic of these trademark qualities is the tactile, woven structure seen in the Lento sofa and chairs. The family company was originally founded in 1992, on the basis of adopting the ‘Lloyd Loom’ weaving technique, originally invented in 1917, for a wider market, for which it is now the worldwide market leader. Due to a lack of rattan, inventor Marshall Burns Lloyd found a strong, comfortable alternative in Kraft paper wrapped around a metal wire.
This history continues to inform the brand’s contemporary styles that combine contemporary weaving techniques with modern materials: "The result is a combination of authentic craftsmanship with new designs, materials and finishes," says Claeys. And, importantly, the Lento collection brings this tactility and softness to the outdoors. Its materials have been engineered with highly durable qualities such as the UV-resistant polypropylene rope and weather-resistant cushion fabrics. An integral part of slow living is about reconnecting symbiotically with nature, and Lento makes this as easy as possible.
It’s been Vincent Sheppard’s mission as a brand to translate the laid-back appearance of furniture, into a laid-back way of designing for the contract market. There are modular pieces in every collection to suit large scale spaces; prototyping and testing for durability so pieces can work both indoors and outdoors and plenty of room for customisation so designers can select the exact RAL colour for their project, and even commission non-standardised pieces made to the highest possible quality at Vincent Sheppard’s own factory.
As a designer and manufacturer, Vincent Sheppard prides itself on a thoughtful and conscious process behind every product: "From the beginning, we decided to work mainly with natural materials. For example, we prefer rattan to steamed beech whenever possible, because rattan grows back within a year. But we also believe that as a company you have a responsibility that goes beyond the product itself – we pay attention to the consumption of raw materials, recycling and the use of ecological products, and insist on European standards in our factory in Indonesia," says Claeys.
Here we can see how the ideas behind ‘slow living’ can be translated into process, design and craft. From the deep appreciation of traditional weaving and hand-bending wood, to a respect of natural materials, skillful manufacture and sustainable values. It’s clear that taking it slow, being mindful and meaningful, is a way of life that Vincent Sheppard both designs for and lives by.