Van Gend Residence

Located in the quiet and tree-lined Brugmann area of Brussels, stands a six-story townhouse from the 1920s. The entire heritage collected through decades etched a number of styles and materials. That is until two years ago when creative Raphaël Van Gend bought the 600m² space and renovated the impressive residence towards a fresh direction. The homeowner took unto himself to be the architect and interior designer behind the brave undertaking.

As the modifications began the creative director—as he has accumulated several roles throughout his career including a ballet dancer, painter, fashion model, and jewellery designer as of late—chose to handpick and preserve a few elements from the original house. The guillotine windows remained to great effect, the mighty marble fireplace in a slight mint-chip ice cream colour and some gentle plaster cornices. All the rest was renovated with exciting new features. However, a question remains: How to achieve sophistication through simplicity?

The process etched a very interesting brand of minimalism to the residence, as Van Gend did not forsake variety in furniture nor visual elements throughout. The stairwell brings concrete to the ring, alongside Carrara marble on the walls. The juxtaposition of the old and new feels very cohesive though. Especially the interior design effort to embrace round and soft to the touch furniture, from the creamy sofa by Pierre Paulin, the post-war sconces by Jules Wabbes and a patinated steel chair by Franck Robichez. Interestingly enough, white colour wasn’t chosen as the main hook to enhance the minimalist aesthetic, but very light pastel tones were spread all the way through all rooms alongside gold and brass features. The floor brings custom-cut tiles from solid chips of oak as an additional organic element.

The final result is an impressive mix of contemporary simplicity with a gentle respect for the past of the residence. Time and time again, Belgian designers and architects demonstrate that their country is the perfect stage for cosmopolitan and minimalism in design.