Designing an interior for living with art
The reflection of exceptional architecture and an exceptional collection
In Knokke-Le-Zoute, facing the North Sea, this property has been passionately renovated for its owners. Each of the rooms in this flat features parts of a well-known contemporary art collection. Olivier Dwek‘s talent is to have been able to meet all expectations and desires. Here he demonstrates how interior design is the result of partnering striking modern architecture with an equally striking collection of contemporary art. The complex is also part of an exceptional property portfolio.
The flat is arranged across two top floors that were for sale in a building with historical character. A residential building built on the Zoute dike by Belgian architect Marc Corbiau in the 1980s. This place, designed and decorated by Olivier Dwek, an interior designer based in Brussels, is a perfect combination of comfort, calm and museum-like beauty. As in a museum, modern and contemporary art shine together.
The Belgian architect, his enchanting and radical vision of luxury living, and the many art centres he has designed have recently been honoured in a beautiful book. A monograph printed by Rizzoli New York: “Olivier Dwek, à la lumière de la modernité” (Olivier Dwek, in the light of modernity). Thanks to the vision of its founder, the entrepreneur and collector Hubert Bonnet, the CAB Contemporary Art Foundation in Brussels was the first art venue to give him carte blanche.
The foundations of a large penthouse in Zoute
Acquiring contemporary art is often a big step for any lover of beautiful things who aims to surround themselves with paintings, sculptures and photographs on a daily basis. Design often goes hand in hand with this: a vintage or second-hand sofa, armchairs and table are the perfect match for these valuable acquisitions. The final project is to create an art of living around these pieces of furniture and objects so that they can be fully enjoyed. How to display them at home is the question. It is the interior designer’s job to find the answer. The solution to living in that cherished cocoon is to install your art and design collection in a completely custom-made interior.
Simplicity, purity and brightness. Three essential points describe the natural elegance of this decor by Olivier Dwek where design and art converse peacefully. Everything here magnifies the view and the singularly soft light of the North Sea. All the works of art present seem to provide rhythm to the place, as if all the interior architecture and decoration were organised around these pieces.
Keeping up with the times and blending ideally into the surroundings seems to have been the guiding principle of this interior design. But also, the softness of the lines, the nobility of the materials, the natural colours and the presentation of a very beautiful collection of contemporary art. The feeling of space and the almost physical presence of natural light are what you remember most from a visit to this penthouse. No unnecessary furniture, no old-fashioned objects.
A design created as an ode to modernity
Invitation to great classics of art and design
The living and dining room of the penthouse opens onto a large terrace with views of the dunes, the beach and the sea. A range of tones is played out in light and shade with greys, sandy beiges, taupe browns, milky whites punctuated with natural wood and black wenge-stained woodwork. This subtle colour palette brings us back to the landscape, which it echoes perfectly.
The living room features a sofa by decorator René Drouet and a floor lamp by ceramist Georges Jouve dating from the 1950s, as well as a dining table by Milanese interior architect and designer Vincenzo De Cotiis. A ceramic designed by the American Kristin McKirdy stood on a bench by Charlotte Perriand. Stools by this French designer, which were exhibited at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, and a low Kangaroo chair by Pierre Jeanneret, produced in 1955, stand alongside neon art by the British artist Tracey Emin. This was created in the early 2000s.
On the wall, you see a work of art by the American painter Terr Winters (Lapis, 2014). On the floor, stools and Charlotte Perriand’s Forme Libre table (1967) and a ceramic by Takuro Kuwata (Tea Bowl, 2016) share the spotlight. The carpet is a new creation by the architect Olivier Dwek, designed for this project. Near the staircase, a silkscreen by Andy Warhol (Jackie, 1964), surprises the visitor.
Prouvé, Basquiat and icons in complete privacy
Great names from the history of design and contemporary art reside here and make it feel like a private museum.
In front of the Polar Bear sofa and armchair by Jean Royère (1950), the Flaque coffee table by the same designer, sought after by collectors, is brought face to face with a cow skin armchair by Charlotte Perriand. A work produced in 1946. A drawing by Jean-Michel Basquiat belonging to the owners was chosen to appear in a surprising location: above a designer open fireplace.
The office space is punctuated by the same desire for natural timelessness. Behind a solid wood table made by the Ateliers Jean Prouvé (S.A.M TS11, 1942), which serves here as a desk, a rare example of the Tout Bois chair from the same French design and architecture workshop has been carefully placed. On the table, a special translucent glass sculpture by Ritsue Mishima has been placed. It appears to be moving. The Japanese artist named it Waterways (2017).
In the almost immaculate dining room, a dining table by the American cabinetmaker, designer, and architect George Nakashima is surrounded by walnut chairs from the 1940s. They were created by the sculptor Alexandre Noll. The master library in the penthouse was designed by the renowned Antwerp interior designer, collector and gallery owner Axel Vervoordt. It is the culmination of a minimalist interior design and a tasteful private art collection.
Finally, the master suite, also with a sea view, offers the utmost privacy. A simple collection of drawings by artists such as Tracey Emin, Raymond Pettibon, Francis Alÿs and Robert Longo hangs there. A floor lamp by the French painter and sculptor Richard Texier animates this sober and eloquent “tableau”.