Architect, designer and creative lead for prestigious brands, Vincent van Duysen’s work encompasses everything from product design to contemporary homes, with a style that is pared back yet warm and human. At Focus/19, he is introducing a new outdoor collection for Sutherland Furniture, Otti, his second for the US company. Here, he explains where he finds sanctuary, and why his work “is about soul”.
How does Otti build on your previous collection for Sutherland Furniture?
There is no direct link. For both projects, the starting point was more based on the materials, which are completely different. With Otti we investigated creating some beautiful classical details on the aluminium structure while the ropes add a graphic, more modern language. This results in a collection based on the contrast of classical and modern attributes.
The table tops in the collection are made from lava stone – what draws you to this material?
We’ve been using it in some projects for quite some time now: it’s a good, resistant material that fits very well to outdoor conditions. We like the warmth and depth it gives, and the glazing creates a slight craquelé which gives it a natural kind of patina.
What do you obsess over in your work?
I always start by focusing on the essence, and then eliminate all the excess. To me, it means undoing the clutter and getting to the core, achieving an authenticity, simplicity, and purity. Through this, I try to achieve a sense of wellbeing which is directly related to the inhabitants’ experience within the space. It’s about soul.
What are you working on at the moment?
Predominately I work on a lot of residential projects but my portfolio became much broader than that. I am currently working on a few private residences in the USA, Belgium and France. I am taking on the design of a boat and I have also large commercial projects in Germany, Italy, Thailand and the USA.
Where is home for you, and what’s your style at home?
My home in Antwerp is where I am most centred. I worked with a very Belgian palette that combines roughly woven textures but also very neutral smooth surfaces such as plaster, wide poplar floorboards, and Belgian Bluestone. I wanted to reference the rich architectural history of the house but also to create a serene space in which modern art and furniture pieces could sit comfortably and feel timeless.
I also have a new-build holiday house in Portugal: the architecture is embedded in the dune landscape, and has a particular interaction with the surrounding nature.
Where do you feel at your most creative?
I consider both my residences, in Antwerp and Portugal, a sanctuary. They are my ultimate escape, and where I am most centred. It’s all about calming down and creating silence, and being in a space that doesn’t overstimulate the senses, which boosts my creativity.
Inspiration also comes from travel, conversations, exhibitions, people, everyday life – but my absolute work essentials are my senses. I’m drawn to places that stimulate my senses and make me reflect on different ways of thinking and living.
Where do you head to first when you have some free time in London?
The Serpentine Gallery because I haven’t see the new edition [of the summer pavilion] yet…