Two artists start design company

Maria Thereza Alves and Jimmie Durham started a design company.

Named LABINAC by Alves, it is based in Berlin, where the couple live. ‘The Earth is more than our daily schemes’, Alves said, ‘The aesthetic life is a life worth living.’

LABINAC is conceived as a design collective, and artists such as Elisa Strinna from Italy, Jone Kvie from Norway and Bev Koski from Thunder Bay, Canada, are also invited to produce works.

The company will make furniture, light fixtures, jewellery, and vases and dishes from glass and ceramics.

An opening is planned for late November, in a space acquired for a month or so. After the opening private viewing will be by appointment. For the immediate future there will be no permanent location or ‘store’.

Tables, chairs and benches made of metal, wood, bone and discarded stone will be displayed. Jewellery made of gold, electronic parts and glass will also be available, and light fixtures made from broken glass and metal. Durham has said that he likes the energy of broken glass. He uses it as well as small elements of older works from Murano to construct chandeliers and other fixtures.

Alves, on the other hand, makes large vases using the natural, slightly wild shapes that she forms in the blowing of glass directly. She designed a ‘Spider Chair’ in Naples where prototypes were handmade by her and an ironworker recently immigrated from Libya. Alves has also designed incidental tables in Berlin, using steel and stone from a stone yard near their studio.

Durham likes to combine unusual materials such as bone (cow and horse bone sourced from industrial suppliers), natural wood and old furniture parts, cut stone that is unusable for other purposes. But Durham also appreciates more traditional material: ‘I made wedding rings for two friends in the 60s and got hooked on the idea of gold, but the stuff inside electronic devices is even more magic’, he said.

Alves has brought back from Brazil ceramics and beadwork that she says is far beyond what is normally available. Such as the bowls made by Arupo Waura from the Wauja peoples of Mato Grosso. Bags by Maria Rosilene Silva Pinheiro of the Huni Kuin peoples in Acre were commissioned especially for LABINAC. Sales from these will provide financial assistance to indigenous students. A few hundred Euros can begin to change history amoung Brazil’s indigenous peoples’, she stated.

Kai-Morten Vollmer started LABINAC with Alves and Durham and can be contacted at

Alves and Durham have lived together in Mexico, New York, Marseille, Brussels, Rome, Naples and Berlin. They have made their own furniture and work areas in each place over a forty-year period.

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