In 2010 Thames & Hudson published the first monograph of Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen. Earlier this month, they released the second which presents thirty of his works produced over the past decade plus many essays written about the architect and his ethos. The buildings featured include an array of elegant residences in Europe, New York, Paris, and the Hamptons, as well as larger-scale commercial and public projects, yacht interiors and product and furniture designs he has conceived for B&B Italia, Molteni&C, Fantini, and Sutherland. Many of the buildings and their interiors are exquisitely captured by photographers Hélène Binet and Franҫois Halard, the images are themselves compelling compositions of shape and light.
Actress Julianne Moore wrote the foreword. When planning her own home, she had unknowlingly collected many tear sheets featuring Van Duysen’s projects, and then years later, after mentioning him in an article, they were introduced. Moore writes, “All of the rooms had a tactile quality, and I felt that someone hadc created them in human proportions. I could feel the life they reflected.”
In the introduction, architect Nicola di Battista concurs. and articulates it this way, “In every project, his main objective remains clear: to create the best possible space for a person to inhabit. Everything he does must somehow enhance the quality of human living, whether the design be for an interior, an exterior, or a set of furnishings.” Speaking to many ot the locations which are historic buildings modernized by Van Duysen, Battista says the architect draws from the past “while showing a profound awareness in the art of living in contemporary society.”
Architectural critic and author Marc Dubois also writes about the timeless appeal of his work that does not get sidetracked by trend. In an essay titled Craftmanship as Adagio, he writes: “His work is often wrongly described as ‘minimalist’ due to the absence of excessive decoraiton. However, the process of simplification isn’t a form of simplism or idleness but a conscious choice that favours stillness, with the utmost regard for materiality and detail.” Of Van Duysen’s designs for furniture and other projects, Dubois summarizes the architect’s aesthetic as “an aversion to showiness.”
Beside the architectural critiques and intellectural discussion, there is much to glean from this 320 page book, featuring 277 color images, 369 illustrations in all. The beauty of sight lines, the interaction of angles and light to form intriguing shadows, the juxtaposition of old and new…and of course it all comes packaged within a striking bookcover that will lend chicness to any coffee table or book shelf.
BOOK COVER: Courtesy Thames & Hudson