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Charles Kaisin’s dinners : totally surreal experiences

Whether they take place in a subway station, at the bottom of a swimming pool, or at the Monte-Carlo Casino, Charles Kaisin’s surrealist dinners transport guests to other worlds. Extravagantly shaped dishes presented on rotating plates on the table, birds flying freely between the guests, tables opening onto pools to indulge in angling, or ballerinas dancing delicately on the tips of their toes between the glasses : not a second goes by without a new event delightfully surprising the guests. There’s a magician in Charles Kaisin’s house. Passionate about art history and trained in design, the Belgian designer has been organizing these surrealist dinners with breathtaking scenographies for private individuals and prestigious institutions for several years now. Endowed with overflowing creativity, rich in historical and artistic references that he puts at the service of his sponsors, Charles Kaisin is also a conductor who leaves nothing to chance by taking infinite care in the preparations, which can last more than a year. He unveils, for Acumen, some of the ingredients used to create the success of his unique dinners, immersing you in an ephemeral world where fantasy, poetry and gastronomy appeal to all five senses.  

You graduated from Central Saint Martins, with Ron Arad as a teacher; you worked with Jean Nouvel and you were also the artistic director of Val Saint Lambert… How did you come to organize dinners ? 

Charles Kaisin : By chance ! When I did my internship with Jean Nouvel in Paris, more than ten years ago, I was lucky enough to be hosted by the Guerrand-Hermès family. To thank my hosts, I wanted to organize a dinner for the different people who had supported me in my work, as well as in all my studies and research. I asked myself what I could do for a family that has travelled all over the world. So I wanted to prepare a dinner that was different from the usual dinners, that was a real experience. 

After the dinner, many of the guests said : « But Charles, why don’t you do this more often ? You could do this for us, for an event. » So, little by little, I organized events for individuals and for luxury brands like Rolls-Royce, Hermès, Roederer… We’ve done a lot all over the world. 

Can you tell us about this very first dinner ? 

As has been the case every time afterwards, we had an amazing location, which in this case was a workshop. It was the first time we had had a big dinner in a workshop. On the tables, there were birds on the loose. It was completely crazy ! There was also a theme, which was surrealism linked to Belgium. A whole group of Belgian surrealist groups had influenced me. The costumes had been designed to measure. I had brought in a starred chef, and there was a waiter for every two people, so that everyone was served at exactly the same time. 

Have you always been attracted to set design and directing ? 

Yes ! I’m passionate about opera and music. I learned piano and organ, and I also played the cello. I have also always loved architecture and design. Organizing these surrealist dinners is therefore a logical continuation that allowed me to create a link between all these fields, and to make them happen in a single moment. 

Can you tell us about the environment in which you grew up ? What was your dream job as a child ? 

When I was a child, I had the chance to live in the countryside, in a small village near Maredsous, Belgium. So the relationship with nature has always been very present in my work. At the beginning, I wanted to be a doctor ! Saving lives was, for me, the most beautiful job in the world. So I studied Latin and mathematics to try to have as much baggage as possible. I hesitated for a long time between medicine and architecture… Then I finally chose architecture because I was interested in the relationship to space.