Damien Gernay was born in 1975, in the suburbs of Paris. Between 1994 and 1998, he studied design at École Supérieure des Arts (ESA) Saint-Luc Tournai in Belgium. After school, he worked on scenography projects for contemporary dance and theatre clients in Belgium. From 2003 to 2005, Gernay was an artist-in-residence at Le Fresnoy, National Studio for Contemporary Arts in Tourcoing, France, a center for interdisciplinary artists. In 2007, he established his own design studio in Brussels. In 2000, along with Magali Vernier and Olivier Pitot, Gernay cofounded GABUZOMEU, a plastics research group.
Gernay’s work is highly experimental, driven by his desire to challenge boundaries between art and design. To date, his practice spans furniture, lighting, and accessories. His pieces often reflect a reverence for nature and the enigmatic; his larger oeuvre focuses on materiality, texture, and ambiguity. As Gernay says, “Close to the considerations of a painter or a sculptor, the imponderable plays a decisive role in my practice. The error is accepted and assimilated, making each piece unique with its own history, complexities, and intimate paradoxes. I try to combine control with spontaneity, mixing the smooth with the rough.”
Standout projects include Nature Synthétique (2002), a table for which Gernay—working with GABUZOMEU—transferred silicone-reliefs of tree parts onto the underside of a polyester-cast table. Juxtaposing the manufactured and the natural, the green, hand-painted organic forms are visible through the transparent surface. Meanwhile, his ongoing Textured Objects series, originally launched in 2010, brings simple white objects to life using faux bois and faux marble painting. Additionally, as of this writing, Gernay has been commissioned by the city of Brussels to create a sculpture—titled Paysage Corrompu (Corrupt Landscape)—which will stand at the city center as of 2016. Inspired by a mountain landscape, the brick sculpture will also host an urban vegetable garden.
Gernay exhibits frequently, including, as of this writing, at fairs such Maison & Objet in Paris (2012, 2010, 2009), ICFF in New York (2008), Milan Design Week, (2007-2009, 2011), and institutions such as Mint Gallery in London (2013, 2014), Design Vlaanderen Gallery in Brussels (2014), and Triennale de Milano in Milan (2013, 2014), among others.