DESIGNER SPOTLIGHT: AXEL VERVOORDT
In almost every interview I’ve ever given I get asked about the figures in the design world that inspire me most, and the question always gives me pause… There are so many incredible, talented, creative designers that I’ve looked up to since childhood, and sometimes depending on my current mood, it can be a pretty fluid list. However, there’s one name that has consistently topped my list of designers that I love, admire, and look up to for as long as I can remember: Axel Vervoordt.
To see an Axel Vervoordt space is to be instantly transported into a world of raw, effortless sophistication. There is something so minimal and clean about his designs, while they remain completely and entirely his. You know it’s Vervoordt when you see his work — but his singular uniqueness that makes him stand out, magically doesn’t translate to a cookie-cutter style. That is a brilliant — and incredibly difficult — line for any designer to walk: simultaneously having a recognizable and unique aesthetic all to yourself, while still making every single space feel individual and special.
Vervoodt’s overarching focus on organic harmony in the space he designs is one that resonates with me deeply. His quest for harmony results in a beautiful balance of opposite aesthetics: raw and refined, airy and moody, detailed and meditative, calm and uneven. Each space feels deeply personal, not only to Vervoordt, but to anyone who sets foot in it… as though you could make it your own without much effort. I’ve drawn so much inspiration from this ability of his. My own design quest is to make sure that each space feels curated to tell the story of those who live in it. But at the same time, I want to make sure that every space I design — regardless of the client — feels like home to all who enter.
Looking at Vervoordt’s Kanaal project in Antwerp, for instance, is like peering into a little corner of the world where life is not only organic, but also creative. The mixture of rough poured concrete, rustic wood, and imperfect ceramics creates a sophisticated authenticity that I strive for in every project I take on. Life is not perfect, art is not perfect, people are not perfect, and there is no such thing as the “perfect” space. I have always loved the way that Vervoordt embraces the imperfections of life through the materials that he uses, and I have been similarly drawn to the imperfect rawness of honed stone, unlacquered brass, and reclaimed wood throughout my career.
Above all else, I appreciate the way that Vervoordt not only curates his spaces, but actively chooses not to include any pieces which don’t function in the space. I’ve always believed, and strongly advocated, that if an item isn’t fully functional or fully beautiful, then it doesn’t belong in your space. Period. I see this same instinct in Vervoordt’s work, almost to an aggressive point of minimalism. Every object, every branch, and every stone is so carefully chosen and placed. I admire that kind of consideration and consistency so much. In this day and age, it’s easy for us to accumulate stuff for the sake of having it — and so hard for us to let it go. There is a freeness in Vervoordt’s designs due to their minimalist selection that inspires me constantly.
Like many of the materials that Vervoordt uses, there is a sort of patina to his overall design aesthetic that I am innately drawn to — it’s a rich combination of old world simplicity with contemporary sophistication that is hard to recreate, and therefore so uniquely, so organically, him. I always look forward to the next Vervoordt endeavor, and he will forever be at the top of my list of awe-inspiring designers.