Dries Talks
W/ Vincent Van Duysen
Antwerp, 2023

[How would describe freedom and what does it mean to you?]

Freedom for me is a means to nourish my creativity, and the ability to act on change without constraints…

[What are your points of creative inspiration for your designs?]

My design process is constant – I am always designing in my mind – never from a ‘blank canvas’. I enjoy being as observant as possible and have a strongly visual approach. I regularly sit with my team and discuss ideas and directions to achieve a shared vision. My ongoing inspiration comes from travel, conversations, exhibitions, people, everyday life.

[What is your favourite part of your creative process?]

I wouldn’t say I have a particular part of the process that I would label as my ‘favourite’ – every project is unique. At the same time you must consider the context, location, relationships, program, and brief… and this diversity always results in projects that are distinctive and tailor-made. In terms of excitement, I do enjoy the start of a project where I get to share new ideas and new references with my team. Having positive reactions from my clients and being able to share in their vision is also very fulfilling part of the creative process.

[What does freedom mean to you when it comes to art?]

It means no limitations for an artist to express its creativity without constraints.

[How would you describe your work? What inspires you the most?]

I am like a sponge absorbing from the most diverse disciplines. Everything has the potential to inspire me: a documentary on YouTube, an image from someone I follow on Instagram, a book, a work of art, all sorts of visual stimuli, books, galleries, movies… It all goes through the filter of my empathy and my imagination, and that’s how I create. But I’m optimally creative only when surrounded by people. I believe for me, daily life, daily encounters–this is what inspires me the most. And my travels. And my team!

[You have done so many inspiring projects over the years. Which one are you the proudest of?]

Every project is different in context, location, relationships, program and brief, so it is difficult to favor some. Besides, I always take a narrative into account when designing, and in that sense, my projects are building a sequence of a broader ‘picture’. Nevertheless, because you always create some emotional connection, there are some key projects that come to my mind like my holiday retreat in Portugal, Casa M.

[Can you recall the first time you were amazed by architecture, and the impact it can have on a person’s life? What made you realize you wanted to be an architect?]

My parents educated me across many different arts as a child so these were the primary influences for my appreciation and understanding of beauty. From a very young ages I fostered a natural talent for creativity. I chose architecture because it covered so many aspects of all of the applied arts, so in that sense it is an all-round field of study. Architecture gave (and still gives) me the opportunity to express my creativity in many different ways and to contribute to the art of living.

[Your take on Minimalism / developing your own style ?]

I am not into minimalist, sober interiors. I want soul. I believe that my work goes strongly against the soulless clichéd ideals of minimalism. Minimalism is a movement in the visual arts that first manifested itself in the US from the 1960s onwards. My attention goes out to a pureness in aesthetics by undoing the clutter and getting to the core.
Ever since the beginning of my career – 30 years ago – the most important thing has always been to consider architecture as a profession dedicated to humanity; and that means starting from the architecture of places, whose inhabitants need to feel protected and relaxed, right through to the furniture and the objects around them that are necessary for them to live a comfortable and happy life. Furthermore, I think technology today is over-inflated: it shouldn’t prevail over creation. Otherwise everything is boiled down to soulless machines that have no spirituality, no human touch.

[What is beauty to you? How would you describe it?]

I am an epicure, so I like beauty and enjoyment in almost everything that I do in life. To me beauty is something everlasting, timeless, something that moves and that inspires. It could be subjective but immortal. I see beauty every day, on Instagram, in a book, a person! The ultimate creativity nourishment.

[Who encouraged you to be brave? Somebody that inspired you throughout your career?]

The way my parent raised, educated me, and pushed me to be the best person I could possibly be.
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