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Bart Lens’ Life Is the Stuff of a Henry van de Velde Award

In this year’s edition of the Flemish design ceremony, the architect received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Other big winners? Verilin, Theomatik and Sep Verboom.

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Text by Rab Messina

For more than 20 years, the Henry van de Velde Awards have celebrated the work of exceptional designers in Flemish territory. In this year’s edition Flanders DC highlighted two designers, one design company and seven products.

The big winner? Hasselt-based architect Bart Lens, the recipient of this round’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The man behind the Valerie Traan gallery renovation, the made up Droogloodsen offices and the Maldegem town hall expansion –as well as the Diabolo lamp for Eden in our cover image– was honoured for the sensible way he transforms existing structures. “As a part of the creative process, he observes how people experience their environment and how they occupy space,” said the jury. He is drawn ever closer to the materials, with the traditional ways of working them becoming ever more important. With this emphasis, Bart Lens brings sensitivity and atmosphere to a substantial part of the overall living environment.”

One of his projects stood out from the others, though: his work as a guest curator at the Bokrijk museum complex in Genk. “He became an ambassador for traditional crafts heritage through the Bokrijk brandmerkt project,” the jury explained. “In this project he unites the present, past and future of craftsmanship in a single narrative, by bringing together the tradespeople and designers of today and tomorrow.”

On the other end of the career spectrum, the Young Talent Award went to Sep Verboom, an industrial designer occupied with the distant future, working for both the commercial sector and NGOs. “Verboom is a textbook example of what today’s designers should be: not just producers and innovators, but people who inspire and connect, and, of course, people who make the world a better place,” said the jury.

Linen brand Verilin took home both the Company Award and, indirectly, the Design-led Crafts Award —won by designer Lore Langendries for Tableskin, a set of tactile tablecloth and napkins for the Bokrijk-based manufacturer. The items are display Verilin’s detailed craftmanship, but also Flanders’ quirky humour: the patterns for Tableskin are based on roedeer hide and cowlick hair. “You are wiping your mouth with hair,” she said about the project.

And what about the audience favourite? The Public Award went to Theomatik, a table tool that allows people with only one functional arm to eat independently —a project developed by Theo Willen and Frédéric Boonen for the Jessa Ziekenhuis.

The full list of winners is below.

Bart Lens


Sep Verboom

ECODESIGN AWARD BY OVAM                                          
Post-Couture Antwerp



Kastaar for the reopening of the Plantin-Moretus Museum

DESIGN-LED CRAFTS AWARD                          

EFFICIENCY AWARD                                                               


HEALTHCARE AWARD                                                           

The works of the winners and nominees of the 2018 Henry van de Velde Awards are on display until April 15 in a free exhibition in the foyers of the BOZAR.

Bart Lens' Kasteel van Groenendaal. Image by Philippe van Gelooven.
The renovated Valerie Traan gallery by Bart Lens
The Tribo tables by Sep Verboom reflect the Carnaúba palm origin, as well as the environmental role the tree plays in the community in Brazil.
The AYA Lounge chair, from the namesake collection. Sep Verboom worked together with Indonesian rattan artisans and the Belgian furniture brand Vincent Sheppard. Image by Aaron Lapeirre.
Linen pieces by Verilin. Image by Kurt Stallaert.
At the Verilin textile factory
Lore Langendries' Tableskin. Image by Studio Apart.
Theo Willen and Frédéric Boonen's Theomatik
Kastaar conceived an original plan for promoting the reopening of the Plantin-Moretus Museum: it ventured out onto the streets of Antwerp with two mobile printing presses and designed its own museum shop collection based on 16th-century illustrations from the archive. Image by Kastaar.
One of the resulting pieces of Kastaar's street activation. Image by Kastaar.
Dubio is a brick with shadow lines that create an illusion of two or three thin stacked bricks.
With Stubs, Frank Ternier has developed four colourful and stackable stools for Labt that together form a whole
Colli-Pee is a smart device for a guaranteed and standardised collection of first-void urine
The Post-Couture Collective, designed by Martijn Van Strien, offers an alternative to the current overproducing fashion system by developing a new method for producing sustainable, affordable and personalised clothing

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