Pieter Vanrenterghem is an extraordinary interior designer who does his own thing, always looking ahead. Imagicasa spoke with him about his road to success and the highlighted Project VV. ‘For me, luxury is having time to enjoy the little things in life, it’s a cliché, but it's so very true.’
As an interior architect, Pieter Vanrenterghem is no stranger to his field. A year after graduating from college in Ghent, he founded his own interior architecture office in Zonnebeke in West Flanders. Twenty years later, he still runs it with heart and soul. In the beginning, he ran it on his own, now he’s accompanied by four passionate colleagues. ‘When you start as an interior architect, you're unfortunately very often forced to work on things that you can't really identify yourself with. You don't have enough maturity yet and also your network is still very small, so you sometimes just need to accept whatever they offer you. But with some perseverance you'll achieve what you wanted to achieve. People are asking me for what I do and not just to do something.’ Vanrenterghem has left his personal mark on Belgian interior architecture with his subtle, sleek interiors. There is something admirable in his designs. Is it his love and constant search for natural and sustainable materials? His attention to finishings and details? Or maybe it's his sober, simple style with subdued colours and authentic lines and shapes that make his work so pure. The architect is known for his beautiful, relaxed style with a modest luxury. ‘I would say it’s 'warm minimalism', that’s what they call it nowadays, right?’
A feeling of humanity and humility, far away from clinical and soulless interiors.
Project VV is a warm family home located on the outskirts of Kortrijk that Vanrenterghem designed for a young couple. In doing so, he once again proved that simplicity – which often has a cold and impersonal connotation – can also feel very warm and homely. The couple's wish was for a sleek and yet cosy house that adapts easily to their lifestyle but is also timeless. ‘It really had to become a place where they could relax after a hectic day, far away from the turbulent outside world.’ Venrenterghem started this project from a tight floor plan and a continuous line which he then alleviated by using natural materials, textures and colours. In the kitchen, he worked with a brushed, dark and light oak and travertine, a robustly treated limestone. These are all materials that age beautifully and create a natural environment. ‘Natural stone, wood, metal, ... are real materials that are nicely patinated during their use and aging process. It's so nice to work with those materials because you can't control them and because they always look different.’ By working with natural, raw materials, Vanrenterghem creates a feeling of humanity and humility, far away from clinical and soulless interiors. In the entire house, the designer alternated between dark and light oak to create an earthy palette. The voluminous couch and warm wooden chairs, as well as the hand-knotted carpet, contribute to an intimate and relaxed whole.
“‘It's only by thinking everything through that you can achieve the best result.”
To Vanrenterghem, the most important thing about a good project is the continuity of working on and improving a design during the entire construction process. A design is never finished in his eyes. Until the last day something can be changed, always for the benefit of the project and the client. For Project VV, the architect designed the three-room and two-bathroom apartment but continued to perfect it until the very last moment. ‘We are those “difficult” architects for every contractor because we want to keep working on the end result.’ Vanrenterghem has never insisted on a design. By constantly entering into a dialogue with the client, he gradually gets to know that person, which influences the process. ‘At the start, you don't know exactly what something encompasses. You get to know that during the building process of the project and then you notice things that can be done better or differently, or things in which you can incorporate more of your client's personality.’ Just as the road to his career was long, he chooses this road in his projects. ‘It's only by thinking everything through that you can achieve the best result.’
This article was originally published in Imagicasa Autumn 2019. You can still order this issue through our webshop to read the full story behind this project and the interview with Pieter Vanrenterghem. Images © Thomas De Bruyne