Over the past three decades, Vincent Van Duysen has established himself as a leading voice in architecture and design, with the ability to temper clean-lined minimalism with warmth and tactility. Whether developing new furnishings for brands like Zara Home or a sprawling Hamptons estate, the Belgian talent seeks to imbue his work with architectonic integrity, defined proportion, and textural complexity. For him, it comes down to better facilitating human experience, whether on a utilitarian, aesthetic, or even metaphysical level.
The new Gravitas collection for Mexican stone supplier Arca coalesces this thinking succinctly. Debuted at the company’s expansive showroom in Wynwood, Miami, during the city’s art week earlier this month—December 6 to 10—the offering reveals the full potential of its material gamut but with formal restraint and cleverly decipherable implementation. Different table, shelving, chair, and lounger designs harness premium stones in weighty yet refined juxtapositions of soft and hard surfaces. While the seats and backrests of the chaise longue and armchair appear to be meticulously carved out to accommodate a pleasant, perhaps even elevated, experience, totemic library stands incorporate slightly rectilinear niches to store books or other printed matter.
Smooth-to-the-touch chair shells and tabletops appear to gently spill over the coarse exteriors of their monumental armatures. Produced from Carrara marble and profido from Italy, cafecina from Spain, and lava from Mexico, the 18 furnishings are distinct yet cohesive. The latest water-jet cutting technology was essential for achieving consistency across the different designs and chosen stones.
The sculptural pieces appear to emerge out of the ground but with a serious amount of geometric and ergonomic intervention critical to their transformation as functional objects. “Natural materials are often the focus of my creations. They instill a sense of serenity and wholeness into my projects,” Van Duysen says. “Often, a significant part of the emotion in my work comes from my consideration for the materials within a space. In this instance, my approach to materials was quite different. The stones selected are integral to the story I want to tell. In this collection, the material is the protagonist.”
Though his conceptual reasoning is rooted in the innate and transcendent, he also drew inspiration from antiquity and the ample use of stone in Greco-Roman architecture.” Ultimately, Gravitas grapples with the relationship between nature, space, and mankind.
The collection is the third special project Arca has developed with renowned artists and designers. The last two years saw standout collaborations with Alicja Kwade and Kelly Wearstler. Each developed projects that highlighted different facets of the company’s comprehensive expertise. Van Duysen’s contribution is no different. The dynamic offering reveals the malleability of stone in an emphatically minimal yet visceral application. His particular aesthetic, formal vocabulary, and preferred colour palette, ties perfectly with Arca’s vision.
Photography by Nick Hudson.