Wednesday, November 13, 2019

‘Axel Vervoordt: Portraits of Interiors’ Newly Published by Flammarion Is One of the Most Exciting New Fall Season Design and Architecture Books

It’s a beautiful book that is a call to action for designers and architects, art collectors, and design lovers. Eighteen different international houses/interiors/retreats/a castle/a country house and a city palace are beautifully photographed by Laziz Hamani, who has been photographing Axel’s work for more than two decades.  

I find it tremendously inspiring. The excellent and thoughful text by Michael James Gardner is informative, highly detailed, and richly described.

Axel Vervoodt wrote an inspired Foreword and an Afterword.

Many of the houses have never been published.

In particular, I love Axel’s point of view that his goal and assignment and ambition is to uncover a universal spirit and an emotional feeling of one-ness that a home can provide. He believes that every residence is a family’s oasis. And to achieve this he and his fantastic team collaborate with the owner on a quest for harmony, beauty. They immerse and focus on the creation of atmospheres that are rooted in the past and connected to the future.

Axel also notes in the book that he is always searching for a sense of unity…creating a connection with the landscape and site. And in handcrafting much of the house, and seeking comfort and peace,he embraces ‘the beauty of imperfection’.

Come with me to discover the wonderful world of Axel Vervoordt and his family and team. 

“We aspire to create spaces that are genuine and authentic, and that envelope visitors with positive energy. This is the result of seeking balance and creating a dialogue between architecture and nature and art.” — Axel Vervoordt

One of the reason for the success of the Axel Vervoordt Company is that Axel Vervoordt's wife and two gregarious sons, Boris and Dick, are very much involved in his business.

May, a textiles expert, runs the fabric studio at the Axel Vervoordt art and antiques and workshop complex in Kanaal, near Antwerp, Belgium. Boris, who resembles his jocular and gregarious father, runs the company and Kanaal exhibitions, and directs sales and acquisitions in contemporary art, his specialty, and antiquities and diverse collections. His brother, Dick, who used to be a professional ice hockey player, runs and directs the company's real estate operations.

Engaging, scholarly, and articulate, Axel Vervoordt was one of the founders of the prestigious annual European Fine Arts Fair in Maastricht and for many years has been a vivid presence at both the New York International Fine Art and Antique Dealers show and the Paris Biennale des Antiquaires.

Axel is among the few truly cross-cultural antiquaires. He draws his antiques and art from the far corners of the earth and several millennia. The garden is a surprise, too. Most new château owners would want imposing gardens, but Axel loves to confound expectations. He has the confidence to emphasize the rusticity of the setting. The potager, for instance, is a working garden: beautiful but not meant simply to impress.

Over the past two decades, Axel and May’s residence outside Antwerp, Kasteel van 's-Gravenwezel, has become an indispensable address for an international coterie of designers, art collectors, and antiques connoisseurs.

The Vervoordts love to entertain; Boris recalls the Breughel-esque scene one winter when the moat around the castle froze over, and they served hot pancakes to friends who came to skate and sip steaming cider beneath the oak trees. 

While many clients have toured the castle and glimpsed the parkland beyond the still, dark moat and the cobblestone courtyard, surrounded by handsomely restored 18th-century farm buildings, few enjoy the private pleasures of the Vervoordts' world.

The garden is a perfect paradise.

With its tall arched windows draped in white wisteria (the elegant W. floribunda 'Longissima Alba'), an orangerie fashioned after a Palladian villa serves as a perfect entrance to the gardens. The light-filled room, with its tailored linen sofas, Louis XVI-style chairs, anddining table that seats 20, reflects the Vervoordts' singular style. White and pink camellias flourish in handsome wood planters, hydrangeas bloom in Italian terra-cotta pots, and fragrant stephanotis traces the windows.

“We feel a responsibility to create living spaces that inspire emotions of serenity and reflection, with the precious comfort of home.” — May Vervoordt

Houses in the Book

The book shows in detail eighteen very different residences around the world.

Included are a riverside home in Kerala, a Surry estate, a Tokyo town house, a New England coastal home, a barn in Flanders, an Ibiza island retreat.

There is a palazzo in Venice, a London penthouse, a Moscow penthouse, a Mediterranean villa, and an Antwerp city palace…plus Axel and May’s castle.

The Vervoordts live the most gracious life and entertain with generosity, said top Paris antiques dealer Bernard Baruch Steinitz, recalling cocktails on the wisteria-draped terrace beside the herb garden. Theirs is a garden of great refinement. It's grand but not at all pretentious.


‘Axel Vervoordt: Portraits of Interiors’ with text by Michael James Gardner, with a foreword and afterword by Axel Vervoordt.

Photography by Laziz Hamani. Published by Flammarion.

All photography here published with permission.