Vincent Van Duysen

Submitted for: Designer of the Year

About the Designer

Vincent Van Duysen was born in Lokeren, Belgium in 1962. A graduate of Sint-Lucas School of Architecture in Ghent, he then worked in Milan, collaborating with Aldo Cibic, after which he worked with Jean De Meulder in Antwerp. Established in 1990, Vincent Van Duysen Architects has since grown into a team of more than 20. Projects range from product design for numerous international brands to commercial developments to large-scale architectural projects, with a focus on high-end residences in Belgium, Europe, the Middle East, and the US. From the very start, the driving force in Van Duysen’s work has been the close relationship he nourishes between architecture, interior and product design. In his projects, the subtle transitions between all of these disciplines are realised in combination with a spatial design that continuously aims for the essence.

The use of pure and tactile materials results in a clear, timeless design where the integrity of the user is at the core in every aspect: context and tradition, the sensual and physical experience of the space, the materials and the lighting. Functionality, durability, and comfort are prime components. This is an architectural language that embraces aesthetics while resisting passing trends and fashion. In 2016, Van Duysen was appointed Art Director of Italian brand Molteni&C | Dada, becoming responsible for its global image through the design of flagship stores, exhibition stands, and series of new products.

Why they’ve been nominated

Vincent Van Duysen’s architecture is serene, characterised by an intrinsic simplicity and a solid grasp of the architectural essence, it also embraces the technical achievements of Modernism. This involves a silent complexity embodying rich and subtle ambiguities. His final goal is always to improve the quality of the ‘abitare’, the life of those who experience it. The elements of most importance to Van Duysen are form, geometric order, and context — regardless of whether the project is about architecture, interior architecture, or product design. Comprising strong spatial concepts and refined shapes, Van Duysen’s work forever exceeds ssing trends.
The second monograph in the Thames & Hudson series, releasing Fall 2018, introduces projects from the past 10 years. Taken together, the two books represent three decades of professional activity. The architect’s evolution over time is apparent, revealing that his innate principals have remained perfectly intact while he continues to develop a high level of maturity and sophistication in the execution of projects both in Europe and internationally. Through creating timeless places and spaces, Van Duysen’s reputation as an artful architect is well deserved. His uncompromising commitment to the integrity of design is here for all to discover.

C Offices, Waregem

An existing office building for a Belgian weaving company was stripped and expanded for the making of a landscape office in an industrial context. These industrial characteristics were retained through the overall appearance, the neutral use of materials and the modular design. However the monolitical character, together with the three oversized lightboxes and the routing on the site, articulates the building as a new presence.Starting from the lower parking area, the long catwalk with a high verge on the side serves as a visual buffer between the offices and the streettraffic.The main entrance is located underneath the first lightbox opposite to a hole in the verge.Once inside, the strong axis of the catwalk is repeated in the central circulation.The lightboxes, marking the building in its environment, were inspired by the technical additions on the roofs of industrial buildings. In this case they create a strong image on the outside and a spacial effect on the inside, combined with plentiful natural lighting.The sober façade with concrete and glaspanels encloses the existing structure. The limited choices of materials with their specific characters define the office building as a neutral monolitical form.

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La Rinacente, Rome

Right in the centre of town, steps away from the Trevi Fountain and the Piazza di Spagna, Rinascente created its second flagship store. The building, located in Via del Tritone on the corner of Via dei Due Macelli, has been carefully restructured over the course of 11 years, which included an archaeological site being brought to light during the construction work.It was Vincent Van Duysen Architects who took the role of leading concept designer for key public areas in the new building, such as the overview of the exterior façade renovation, the general layout strategy at ground-floor and first-floor levels, multi-brand retail areas and the interior design for the main feature within the project: the monumental atrium, a central court that brings light and splendour to every floor.Rome’s new La Rinascente department store provides a magnificent example of how the past and present engage in dialogue and together create a new retail experience; a building that perfectly balances ancient and modern. The façade design highlights the repetition of architectural elements to create a sense of harmonious unity that defines the concept of a contemporary and sober expression.Besides taking into consideration the particularities of the site and the ornamental expression of the existing palazzi, the design is truly inspired by the scale, proportion and hierarchy of Italian architecture, from the classic references such as Bramante’s cloister in Rome, to the Italian modernist architecture from the 1920s and 1930s.For the atrium design, it was important to create a public atmosphere, while still framing the different spaces of all the different retail departments in a sober and theatrical way. The hierarchy and rhythm of different architectural elements define a structural and tectonic grid; the contrast between warm travertine stone and dark bronze panelling enhances the tactility and depth of the composition, creating playful frames of action and experience at every step. At the same time, the urban structure of Italian cities, with multiple squares and public spaces, was a strong source of inspiration while defining the retail floor layouts.The design of all retail fixtures followed the principles of the architecture, with refined details and craftsmanship completing the design. Through a careful selection of materials and a strong architectural design approach, the project truly respects Rome’s unique heritage yet brings a new identity and soul to La Rinascente department store.

Vincent Van Duysen La Rinascente Photo By Marco Beck Peccoz Copyright La Rinascente Highres 11
26 01 La Rinascente  Marco Beck Peccoz Photoshopped

Molteni&C|Dada

The partnership with Molteni&C was initiated during a collaboration on an office project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2014 and followed with the first design series of Gliss Master and Ribbon. Afterwards, in 2016, Molteni&C involved Vincent Van Duysen as creative director thanks to a shared passion for discreet elegance and determination. Vincent Van Duysen takes care of the global image of the brand by designing flagship stores, exhibition stands and a series of new products. The appreciation for craftmanship and rich history can be found in the DNA of both cultures, the North Italian and the Belgian.Molteni&C’s stand design takes its inspiration from a large home environment, where the living areas communicate with the dining areas, interspersed with green spaces and high-impact floor-to-ceiling glazing. Massive bone-coloured volumes are used to create a contemporary architectural arrangement of spaces. Dramatic lighting in combination with the lighter surfaces focuses attention on the Molteni&C furniture on display. The stand is interpreted as a contemporary take on a modern house, reinforcing the feeling of a home, not a furniture showroom. This design ideology is extended to the design of the flagship stores.The design of Paul, Jan and Quinten was inspired by the masters of Flemish painting, where Vincent Van Duysen explored two historic periods that characterized the legendary Antwerp school of painting. Jan Van Eyck was the inspiration for the small Jan table, and for the sideboard Quinten Massijs, founders of the Antwerp school and painters whose obsession for detail led to compositions that were often like those of modern photographs. Paul was born through the inspirational source of Pieter Paul Rubens, master of Flemish painting that verged on the Baroque, where colour prevailed over form.Soon new flagship stores will be opening in Japan, Los Angeles, ...

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