In conversation with Vincent Van Duysen

By Sujata Burman

This year’s Molteni&C collection is described as ‘a modern transposition of the Roman domus’ – a melding of avant-garde and ancient ingredients. We speak to the Italian brand’s Belgian creative director to find out more about his personal influences – from his Classical studies and house in Portugal, to the rigours of creating a timeless environment.

Why did you decide to base the 2023 project on the ancient Roman domus?

I wanted to take a different direction, informed by my secondary school studies. Having studied Greek and Latin, I was introduced to the way of living in Roman times. I have always been fascinated by the simplicity of their homes, developed around an atrium. This element has been extremely influential in my career until today.

Why does the mixing of ancient and avant-garde elements inspire you?

Some ancient elements, such as indoor gardens with colonnades, have always appealed to me; consider for example my own house in Portugal, which has such a feature. What I like about it is that you can create intimate outdoor areas but, at the same time, find an extension of the indoor with light percolating through the columns.

How do you think looking to the past can enhance our present and future creativity?

Modernity couldn’t exist without a clear nod to the past and to classic architecture. My vision derives from my desire to revisit Classical typologies of architecture or design, to revisit them with a contemporary key and dimension. In doing so, I try to imbue my work and oeuvre with timelessness.

What do you think contemporary living looks like today?

Nowadays, I think that contemporary living should have an understanding of how people live in their homes, how they inhabit the space. Contemporary living shouldn’t be only about the physical construction of space but about creating spaces for people to live in feeling protected, safe; being able to unplug and re-energise; surrounded by art, furniture pieces and objects. All these aspects are part of this art of living that is part of my parcours, a sort of Gesamtkunstwerk.

The art of living (of contemporary living) is also a compendious effort that encompasses passion, research and understanding of human needs together with channelling tactility, timelessness, organicity, texture, serenity, comfort, natural materials, light and exquisite craftsmanship.