Shaping ideas | Interview with Vincent van Duysen
If you are moved by distinct architectural language, timeless design and high-end aesthetics, the 1605 Publishers team is inviting you to read an exclusive interview with the renowned Belgian architect Vincent van Duysen who shared with us his insights on inspiration, art-education, career and also, gave us a glimpse of his future plans. Enjoy!
How did you discover that architecture was your passion and the right career path?
When I was a child, my parents educated me across many different arts and this base became a primary influence for my appreciation and understanding of beauty. From a very young age, I fostered a natural talent for creativity. I chose architecture because it covered so many aspects of all of the applied arts, so in that sense, it is an all-round field of study. However, it could have easily been photography, cinema, painting, dance. Architecture gave (and still gives) me the opportunity to express my creativity in many different ways and to contribute to the art of living.
Photographs above (left to right): Concordia Offices photographed by Alberto Piovano, Infra-Structure for Flos, Alexander Wang Residence photographed by Koen Van Damme
What is your biggest professional achievement?
I believe it is creating a recognisable style that people can relate to and that has the signature of Vincent Van Duysen. I also like the fact that I work for human beings first and foremost, to improve their lives organically and timelessly. I also think I have accomplished putting together a great and talented team in Antwerp, which is a priceless achievement.
You studied architecture at the Sint-Lucas School in Ghent. What impact on your development as an architect did your studies have?
The degree in architecture at the Sint-Lucas School in Ghent gave me the tools to develop my style, but it also plunged me into the world of the masters besides allowing me to confront myself with other students and visions. As I said before, I have always been inclined to be creative, so architectural studies were a means to foster a discipline that is an all-round field of study. After that, I started building my personality as an architect with various experiences before I founded my studio in 1989.
Photographs above (top down): VM Residence St Martens Latem photographed by Koen Van Damme, C Penthouse Antwerp photographed by Mark Seelen
Who and what inspires you?
I am like a sponge absorbing from the most diverse disciplines. Everything has the potential to inspire me: a documentary on YouTube, an image from someone I follow on Instagram, a book, a work of art, all sorts of visual stimuli: photos, text, galleries, movies... It all goes through the filter of my empathy and my imagination, and that’s how I create. But I’m optimally prolific only when surrounded by people. I believe for me, daily life and daily encounters are the main sources of inspiration. Apart from this, also my travels and of course, my team! I am a fan of the mid-century masters, of the European modernists in the USA, Richard Neutra (1892 –1970), Rudolph Schindler (1887-1953). Then also, Carlo Scarpa (1906-1978) to name but a few.
What goals/plans have you set up for your nearest future?
I want to keep on designing and creating new architectures, products, and interiors; organically create for mankind, giving timeless objects to human beings. I also want to travel more and to be able to build in countries in which I haven’t yet. Hopefully, we are not going to over-build and overproduce as we need to take care of the world, think more in terms of timeless structures and objects and respect the planet.
In general, with regards to future ventures, there is a lot of enjoyment for me in the consideration of each new project as a chance to test fresh or unexpected ideas. I am continuously designing in my mind so the chance to innovate and further develop this fil rouge that runs through my work is always a welcome challenge.
Another goal is to continue surprising my clients and giving each project a sense of integrity and individuality. Besides, I would like to find myself next to people who challenge me and with which I have creative chemistry and strong interaction. I like working with individuals and clients who get me out of my comfort zone.
What is your advice to young architects that are trying to discover themselves out there?
Be passionate and committed, be driven by your dreams, live life to the fullest, go with your instincts and lastly, always be grateful for being blessed with creative talent.
Photographs above (top down): VV Winery photographed by Koen Van Damme, P Penthouse Antwerp photographed by Alberto Piovano, Cascade for Swarovski (2003)
Vincent Van Duysen
Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen was born in Lokeren in 1962. After earning a degree from the Sint-Lucas School of Architecture, Ghent, he worked with Aldo Cibic in Milan, followed by a collaboration with Jean De Meulder in Antwerp, Belgium. In 1989, Vincent Van Duysen has established his studio which today has grown into a team of almost thirty collaborators. The work of the team ranges from product design for numerous international brands to commercial and large-scale architectural projects, with a focus on high-end residences both in Belgium and across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the USA. The main components of Van Duysen's work are functionality, durability and comfort. His design has a distinct architectural language not shy to convey aesthetics, but prone to eschew fashion and trends.
During his career, Van Duysen has received multiple awards among which the Flemish Culture Prize for Design, Belgian Designer of the Year and the Henry van de Velde Lifetime Achievement Award, and an EDIDA for Best Interior Designer of the Year. His name has also been included multiple times in the AD100 survey by the Architectural Digest network and Elle Decor A-List.