Some designers regard their houses because the consummate showrooms for his or her visible sensibility. Others deal with them as relaxed crash pads a world aside from the trials of their work life. For the 42-year-old Brussels-based architect and designer Bernard Dubois, a sprawling, high-in-the-sky, light-strewn house seems to be a bit little bit of each. Dubois’s not too long ago renovated residence serves as a low-key ode to his persona and aesthetic obsessions. And simply in case he misses the workplace an excessive amount of, his firm headquarters occurs to be proper throughout the corridor, a commute of roughly seven seconds.
Prior to now few years, Dubois, a tall, lanky neo-Minimalist, has change into one of the in-demand designers engaged on both facet of the Atlantic, taking over an array of tasks that vary from origami-like leather-based furnishings items to the fabrication of an L-shaped, canal-front home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, made from forged concrete and travertine stone. Unsurprisingly for a designer who has a penchant for clear, near-to-abstract kinds, Dubois has change into significantly celebrated for his elegant but breathable interiors. “I’m a minimalist regardless of myself,” he admits, laughing. “I’m Belgian, in order that’s my background.”
Dubois grew up in a household of docs and engineers within the suburb of Lasne, a 45-minute drive from Brussels. In faculty, he studied chemistry earlier than discovering his inventive groove in pictures. Finally, his fascination with type and performance migrated to structure, and he graduated in 2009 from the distinguished La Cambre structure faculty. Dubois didn’t wait lengthy to make his foray into the artwork world—his first fee consisted of a white marble shelving system for Balice Hertling Gallery in Paris, adopted in 2013 by a modern wooden and marble desk for Patricia Low Up to date gallery in Gstaad. Nevertheless it was his inclusion within the 2014 Venice Structure Biennale, on the age of 34, that put him squarely on the map. He had utilized with three pals a 12 months earlier, they usually had been chosen to take part by none apart from star architect Rem Koolhaas, who was a committee decide. “The venture was a research of the vernacular of Belgian interiors, so principally we drove round trying inside tons of of individuals’s houses,” Dubois explains. He and his cohorts catalogued all method of design traits, amongst them the shift from the hearth fireside to the tv as the focus of the lounge.
Quickly after, Dubois opened his personal agency and located his first wave of success in residence, retail, and restaurant renovations. “I began working from an architectural perspective,” he says of what units his interiors aside from these of designers who give attention to extra ornamental components like materials or lighting. “I contemplate house, perspective, meeting, and a hierarchy of kinds. I gravitate towards uncooked and pure supplies, however they’re there to serve the ideas of structure.” His memorable interventions embrace sumptuously monastic retail and inventive temples (the Icicle showrooms in Paris and Shanghai, with their austere curves; the Courrèges shops in Paris, in hushed monochrome spliced with mirrors; the Xavier Hufkens gallery in Brussels, that includes minimal concrete accented with birch plywood cladding) and extra intimate and personable home residences. He significantly excels at working with purchasers who’ve intensive artwork collections. “It’s a continuing back-and-forth between the performance of the plan, the house, and the artwork,” Dubois says of those tasks. He likens the varied components of design to characters in a film or a play: “how they relate to one another and, in placing them collectively, how they create a narrative.”
Put up-pandemic enterprise is booming for the younger designer, who at present oversees 12 workers and maintains a satellite tv for pc house in Paris to maintain up with conferences. Other than the Fort Lauderdale home, his newest tasks embrace a resort within the coronary heart of Brussels, a restaurant in Miami Seashore, a duplex house within the Invalides neighborhood of Paris, and a residence in Waterloo, Belgium, consisting of concrete slabs that develop progressively wider as they emerge from the bottom.
Regardless of Dubois’s aesthetically adventurous and technically bold tasks, when it got here to creating his personal areas, his strategy was far humbler. In 2017, he bought a big 14th-floor house in a Sixties white modernist high-rise on the south facet of Brussels. Known as La Magnanerie, the big 17-story constructing looms over the inexperienced parks of Forest, one of many metropolis’s quieter residential communes. Dubois initially used the flat as a private workplace, till someday he observed an actual property agent haunting his neighbor’s door. Dubois requested to see the practically 2,400-square-foot house, which was embellished with pale cloth wall coverings, wall-to-wall carpeting, and cork panels—“each Nineteen Seventies development you may consider”—and agreed to purchase it on the spot. He spent two years renovating it, and eventually moved in final summer time together with his associate of 9 years. He additionally turned his authentic house, throughout the corridor, on the opposite facet of the elevator, into the headquarters of Bernard Dubois Architects.
Together with his workplace 10 ft away, Dubois pointedly prevented making his residence a prototype of his design philosophy. “I’ve all the time differentiated the place I dwell from the place I work,” he says. “Plus, I had a really totally different funds than my purchasers. They have a tendency to have a funds of 10 occasions as a lot as I do, typically 100 occasions. Additionally, for my purchasers, my intervention is way more current. Right here, the thought was to maintain the architectural spirit of the constructing.” That type of modest strategy meant portray the partitions a muted white and selecting a lightweight oak parquet for the flooring, which provides heat and spaciousness to the rooms with out calling consideration to itself. The designer’s insistence on sustaining the character of the midcentury modernist structure is obvious even in his selection of equipment, such because the classic mild switches that match the model of the time.
Nonetheless, Dubois’s distinctive style comes by way of in idiosyncratic touches, just like the birch plywood kitchen cupboards (full with orbicular hand-carved knobs); the graceful, mobile concrete blocks used as mattress platforms; and the hand-selected crimson bricks stacked loosely on their sides to create a Carl Andre–esque espresso desk on a cream Moroccan rug. From the lounge, with its bountiful banks of home windows, Dubois can look out throughout the plush panorama for miles, all the best way to the stainless-steel Atomium landmark within the north (“Belgium’s Eiffel Tower,” because the designer calls it, constructed for the 1958 World’s Truthful). The bedrooms, on the other facet of the house, provide equally majestic views, punctuated within the far distance by “the Lion of Waterloo,” a memorial to the historic Napoleonic battle of 1815. Sunrises and sunsets are a principal attraction, washing the partitions orange and pink.
Given the minimal structure, Dubois needed his artwork and furnishings to take middle stage. “It’s like while you’re a baby or a scholar,” the designer says, “and also you simply acquire the issues round you that you just like. That’s how I needed to deal with this place. I like issues I relate to intimately.” Consistent with this informal ethos, artwork books are piled in corners or subsequent to chairs. Small, unassuming vases maintain bundles of wildflowers. Low lamps and sculptures sit straight on the ground. Taking delight of place are the artwork images that impressed his early curiosity within the medium: a black and white male nude by Robert Mapplethorpe (“the primary work I collected”) and a Rineke Dijkstra colour portrait of a good-looking younger French international legionnaire. Different artworks embrace an summary portray by the missed Belgian artist Léon Wuidar, a trippy collage by Sterling Ruby, and an emotional father-son letter work by Danh Vo.
Dubois likes to combine furnishings kinds—putting, say, a Nineteenth-century Japanese wooden workman stool subsequent to a late-Sixties bulbous metallic lamp by Gae Aulenti, throughout the best way from a set of Nineteen Eighties Mario Botta black eating room chairs and a tin vase within the type of a human hand, additionally by Botta. This eclectic mélange consists of furnishings that Dubois himself designed, just like the lengthy caramel lacquer eating room desk and a geometrical leather-based wall sculpture that folds out right into a writing desk. Dubois mentions that Belgian designers are identified to be “humble and daring on the identical time,” which is the right description of his personal decor. It’s model that doesn’t overwhelm, style that feels each intentional and able to limitless improvisations and metamorphoses.
Alongside together with his slew of upcoming tasks, Dubois can be debuting a present of his personal vases, tables, lamps, and stools this month on the Belgian gallery Maniera. However maybe probably the most thrilling prospect on the horizon is again in his native Lasne. “As a boy, I needed to flee Lasne to return to town, and now that I’m working everywhere in the world, I’ve observed that it’s so lovely and filled with nature,” he says. He not too long ago bought a white brick midcentury bungalow there, which he describes as fairly typical of the interval—a contemporary canvas on which to proceed pursuing his idiosyncratic imaginative and prescient. “It doesn’t want a lot work, simply small stuff,” Dubois says. He doesn’t sound very convincing.