Official project name: Apartment Roseaux
Location: Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium
Interior Designer: Maxime De Campenaere
Project completion date: 2020
Photographer: Maxime De Campenaere
The renowned interior designer Maxime De Campenaere loves the authenticity of ceramic tiles. He likes to use the material in unconventional ways, such as in his first furniture series. In the interview, the Belgian also explains what films like Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick have to do with his work and why it was a good thing that he first wanted to become a cook, gardener or florist.
Mr. De Campenaere, why did you become an interior designer?
Already as a small child, I was very inquisitive. I looked at houses in the neighbourhood and noted the progress of construction. When I was about six, I was already drawing my first “blueprints.” At the same time, I helped my parents in the kitchen and in the garden. Especially when guests came. The ambience should be right and everyone should feel comfortable. At the age of 12, I thought about what profession I should take up later. The choices were cook, gardener, and florist. But the more time passed, the clearer it became: I want to become an interior designer. Here I can combine all my interests.
What do you draw inspiration from?
I’m fascinated by films in which the set plays an important part. Like Clockwork Orange or Shining by Stanley Kubrick, Io sono l’Amore by Lucas Guadagnino or Playtime by Jacques Tatie. I am also an extensive collector of material samples. We practically drown in material samples in the studio, but they are an important source of inspiration for me. Just like the numerous photos I take on my travels, they awaken associations and encourage me to play with colours. I do this particularly well in Milan, by the way, where I study the beautiful palazzi entrances with their mix of materials and patterns.
What distinguishes your work?
Competence, great dedication to each individual project, and a touch of humour. We work in many different areas with the most diverse budgets, schedules, and also technical frameworks. And that is exactly what has a positive effect on our work. I don’t want to commit myself to one particular field of expertise. That would be too boring for me, and then, the boring interior design would also be the result.
You design spaces in the areas of hospitality, living and working. Are the requirements changing there at the moment?
The three areas will certainly always differ in terms of technical regulations and specifications, but recently we have noticed that the boundaries are becoming blurred. For example, we no longer design offices as strictly and delimited as we used to. The domestic feel-good factor that many are now familiar with from the home office is now also being transferred to offices. Our latest office project is the best proof of how work structures are being broken up. More than 50 percent of the space is reserved solely for staff communication. Ideas are exchanged casually on a sofa or on a kitchen island.
What has been your most challenging project so far?
Every project is a challenge in itself, but in terms of budget and schedule, BeCentral was certainly particularly demanding. Currently the largest digital campus in Europe, it is located in Brussels Central Station, and we were initially commissioned to design an area of 60 square metres. In the meantime, it has become nine design concepts for 6,500 square metres. We only had two years to do it and less than €400 per square metre—for all the work including furniture.
What task would be particularly appealing to you?
I would like to realize more projects in the hotel and gastronomy sector. I would also like to work abroad and in cooperation with the local craftsmen there. It’s always exciting to see which materials are used in the respective country and what craftsmanship is required. So it’s the famous looking beyond one’s own nose that drives me.
Speaking of materials: What do you appreciate about ceramic tiles?
Ceramic tiles are extremely versatile and available in many different designs. With them, I can work out different aesthetic solutions and still meet all the demands of functionality at the same time. On the one hand, they stand for authenticity, on the other hand, they bring dynamism to my designs. For example, I create a vintage touch or deliberately create contrasts, as recently with the Craft series in a private residential project.
The Craft collection of Agrob Buchtal is a very primal, archaic tile series.
That’s right. I discovered the series at our local tile dealer and was immediately fascinated by the high-gloss glazes, the impressive visual depth, and the lively play of colours. I was sure that the series would inspire me to create a very special design concept. I just had to wait for the right project. The aforementioned private residential project then was the perfect opportunity.
In which way?
We had the task of designing two bathrooms and definitely wanted to create a warm and cosy atmosphere for the parents and a fresh, stimulating mood for the children. At the same time, we needed a bracket to connect the two rooms in terms of design. The craft was the perfect solution for this project. We used the series in the parents’ bathroom in the colour golden yellow flamed, in combination with black fittings, accessories and a black and white floor covering. In this way, a perfect balance between contemporary design and the vintage feel was achieved. For the children’s bathroom, we chose the colour blue-green flamed—because of its fresh, lively impression. We had the frame of the shower partition painted red, deliberately creating a contrast. The mirror in the shape of an eye is custom-made and brings a playful note to the design with a wink.
In the private sector, tiles are preferably used in the bathroom or kitchen. Which potential do you see for tiles?
Ceramic tiles are, as I mentioned, very versatile, expressive and flexible material for me. I always like to try out new things. For example, I’m currently working on my first furniture series and will also use tiles there.
About AGROB BUCHTAL:
In the form of ceramic, displaying a high degree of quality and discerning design, AGROB BUCHTAL offers architects a “raw material for architecture” which reveals the scope of design. At the same time, consistently systematic concepts ensure the essential basis despite the great variety of ceramic tiles, colours, and formats. The innovative HYTECT surface coating offers revolutionary properties and makes valuable contributions to environmental protection. High flexibility during the development of individual solutions and services such as the Architects’ Service which has been appreciated for several decades has also contributed to the reputation enjoyed by the company.
For more information, visit www.agrob-buchtal.de