From art to real estate…it all comes down to the wabi-sabi vision of Axel Vervoordt
Axel Vervoordt has been probably one of the best kept secrets of Belgium’s export for the last decades. As an interior designer/art dealer he decorates the houses of the worldwide rich & famous jetset.
His worldwide clientèle puts their faith in his hands and buys a ‘no show off’ style of worn out, rustic aged minimalist interior architecture mostly combined with (Asian) art and unique pieces of decoration.
The rumor has it that if you want to discuss your desires & house needs with Mr Vervoordt himself, you’ll need to show up with a minimum of 3 houses to be completely redone, otherwise well you will just have to settle with one of his team experts. He has many famous clients, but Robert De Niro is one of the few who openly communicated about it, as discretion is key in Vervoordt’s world of art, antiques and interior design.
Wabi-sabi is definitely the style he will be remembered about. It’s a Japanese aesthetic imperfect view on the world, using the principles of purity and simplicity. This Buddhist religion is expressed in his work through the usage of for instance pieces of wood aged by nature, poor materials that are rich in spirit or local stones washed by rivers.
This ‘just as it is-ness’ attitude and vision has been the differentiating power of Axel Vervoordt and became his DNA.
I had the pleasure to see his work on several occasions and although I am not a big fan of his home collection (chairs, coffee tables and sofa’s that are his most ‘democratic product’ one can buy) it is pretty mind blowing to see how he creates a soothing atmosphere just with natural light and a single branch of blossom.
More recently I was triggered by his real estate plans he launched for Kanaal in Wijnegem, a little green community only 8kms from Antwerp. Small but one of the most exclusive areas in Belgium where not only fortunate Belgians but also rich Dutch bought or build huge villas and mansions in the past. Vervoordt bought there a former distillery and malting complex, and conceived the plan to make it a city in the country. When I first heard about this plan I didn’t understand who he was aiming at? Why would you buy an expensive apartment in the middle of nowhere? Time went by, and the old industrial site was renovated and rebuild by top notch architects with respect for Vervoordt’s ‘just as it is-ness’ philosophy. During a stroll last month in Wijnegem, I discovered that it became a wonderful old industrial site combined with a beautiful high tech contemporary architecture. Thinking further about this business move from art and interior design into real estate, I realized it was a a very smart move. Vervoordt’s real estate project addresses a target group of well-off babyboomers that little by little sell their big mansions and villas because these palaces simply became too big or too expensive too maintain. This wealthy bunch however don’t want to compromise on luxury and comfort and thus is interested in buying a high end apartment in their hood. The choice of available apartments, studios and lofts created in diverse styles by different architects organized in a kind of ‘village squares’ is exactly what this top notch clientèle is looking for. Like his art, this real estate project comes at a price. Count anything between €285K-€2M for an apartment. But when you just sold your manicured mansion, and you became a fan of the Buddhist wabi imperfect aesthetic you aren’t counting, right?