Portraits of Interiors, Axel Vervoordt
Published by Flammarion
ISBN: 979-2-08-020375-5

Ebony’s Pick: Portraits of Interiors

A coffee-table-worthy publication, Portraits of Interiors takes us inside the most celebrated interiors created by Belgian design maestro Axel Vervoordt.
After flicking through 315 generous-sized pages, it’s hard not to be liberal with ooh’s and aaah’s. In part, this expressed sense of admiration may be ascribed to the page-size images of perfectly balanced interiors. But it’s the combination of the emotionally sound spaces and the genuine, personal interviews that illustrate the choices behind what we witness on the photos that adds real value.
In Kerala, a region in the south of India, we are invited inside a custom-built villa. The riverside home is located in an area known as the land of letters, lakes, and latex, due to the important educational and literary achievements and beautiful backwaters, we learn. The owners, a young family, brought their favorite designers —Studio Mumbai, Axel Vervoordt and landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith — together to make a one-of-a-kind home.

What that entails, is explained by the owners themselves: We built a house with passion. We didn’t intend to make a big family house for the sake of it being big. We built a house to pursue ideas and to understand instincts. (…) It was hard work. We wanted to live surrounded by nature, but we wanted to be protected.

Sometimes we had more questions than answers. How did we reach a compromise? For example, we made a decision to have large screens that block some elements but leave others open. We feel the air. (…) When you build a home for your family, you make choices. We often think, what if you turn the question around and ask: what do these choices say about us? The questions — how you raise your children, what you eat, and what you wear — are ultimately about the way you live. In this house, everything is connected in some way. It’s a seamless representation of personality. The food. The Artempo furniture. The books on the shelves. The clothes that hang in the closet. The choices follow a specific pattern and philosophy. (…)

Portraits of Interiors is an almost spiritual journey that shows us why more is less, aged translates to value, and lived means lasting.
Before we began, we didn’t fully understand why we were drawn to certain things. We never thought about the “why”. That’s what we learned from working with the team that actualized this house. (…) They showed us, philosophically, and from their perspective, how to live. (…) We’ve learned that as one ages, the fundamental approach to life becomes like beads around a necklace of philosophy. If you believe in living in a particular way and you want to put your energy and hopes into it, you can achieve it. (…) When you recognize nature’s power, it gives you confidence.

Accepting the influence of nature and time is a key element in all featured interiors. From a Tokyo townhouse to a Surrey estate, Vervoordt’s design philosophy is expressed as strikingly humble and utterly sincere, dedicated and conscious towards the future residents and the natural surroundings of each and every building, the history of the place and the spirits that inhabit it. Often, that leads to idyllic scenes where everything adds up, and together makes total sense. It makes Portraits of Interiors almost a spiritual journey that shows us why more is less, aged translates to value, and lived means lasting. In that sense, the book is an inexhaustible source of future-proof inspiration to live by in an exhaustible world.
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