Yinterview Designed by Nicolas Schuybroek       Nicolas Schuybroek was born in 1981 and grew up in Brussels. Received English, French and Dutch school education, proficient in all three languages. In August 2011, Nicolas Schuybroek started his own design company in Brussels, Belgium. The essence of Nicolas Schuybroek's design is to imagine a space that is quiet and pure, but also very warm and real. His architecture is often described as monastic and minimalist, but surprisingly, it always has a soul.

Yinji:Do you think about the impact of "minimalism" on you? When are you inspired? And become interested in it?
Nicolas Schuybroek:I think my change in taste and perception started to happen upon visiting the convent Sainte Marie de la Tourette (1953–61) by Le Corbusier. I remember it was a dreadful day, gray and raining, and my first thought was that the building had not aged well. But once I got inside something happened. It was a striking experience created through the use of raw materials: plaster, concrete, primary colors, space, volume, lights. I slowly started to understand that something was missing from the modern buildings that I was seeing elsewhere in Europe—the human scale, the sensorial experience of place and time. Quiet is extremely important right now, and yet it has always been part of me. I do come by the conviction honestly, as the “product” of schools run by the Benedictine order of monks.
       Likewise, one of my foremost influences is the Dutch Benedictine monk and architect Hans van der Laan, whose designs, both religious and secular, were minimalist and tranquil in a recognizably monkish way, but also warm, open, and inviting rather than severe or ascetic. It was on a trip to view Van der Laan’s work that I first experienced the feeling that I now aim to create with every one of my designs, be it a single home or a hotel: that feeling when an unfamiliar place somehow reminds you of who you are, and you feel at peace, neither arriving nor departing, but present.
       Likewise, one of my foremost influences is the Dutch Benedictine monk and architect Hans van der Laan, whose designs, both religious and secular, were minimalist and tranquil in a recognizably monkish way, but also warm, open, and inviting rather than severe or ascetic. It was on a trip to view Van der Laan’s work that I first experienced the feeling that I now aim to create with every one of my designs, be it a single home or a hotel: that feeling when an unfamiliar place somehow reminds you of who you are, and you feel at peace, neither arriving nor departing, but present.Yinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas Schuybroek
Yinji:In your works, how do you practice "minimalism"?
Nicolas Schuybroek:The term itself has been used and over used over the last decades to describe a range of designs, probably too wide, to correctly define the term. In a way, it has become a default term today to define designs which at a distance, fall within a same category but for which no one has ever taken the time to accurately define the word. In my personal experience, it all comes down to stripping a project to its bare necessities: proportion, symmetry, natural materials, light, texture, but in order to produce a very warm, even soft effect. Definitelyw not the coldness typically associated with minimalism.Yinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas Schuybroek
Yinji:How do you enhance the sense of detail in the design?
Nicolas Schuybroek:My vision of “the complete or global work of art” grows out of a love for the intellectual discipline, sensory thrill, and freshness of vision that comes with working across multiple scales.
       Striving for depth and completeness in all things, giving form and life to the harmony of the integrated whole, does have its challenges. It takes time, it takes ceaseless effort, and perhaps above all it takes devotion to the process—faith that the hours and hours of thought and labor will result in something special. Yet this is simply the way I am called to work.
       My designs treat the familiar—homes, offices, hotels, and objects alike—with a reverence that I could describes as almost mystical. The aim is not to bind people together into ever larger and more powerful collectivities, but rather something more modest, more subtle, and perhaps, these days, more difficult: to reunite the individual with himself.
Yinji:How do you see the relationship between light and scale in architecture?
Nicolas Schuybroek:There is still a tendency in Belgium today among certain architects to work only on larger scale projects, and look down on interiors as something to be left to interior designers. There is another path, paved with names such as Vincent Van Duysen and Axel Vervoordt, who have the ability to see the whole, how the ideas all fit together. That has always been important for me. Light and scale are non-dissociable parts of a design process, and are part of the integrated “whole” which includes proportion, symmetry, sequences, circulation flows. It is a delicate exercise to achieve the perfect balance between these crucial items.Yinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas Schuybroek
Yinji:Your five-year experience as a project director at Vincent Van Duysen. What changes have you brought about in your design career?
Nicolas Schuybroek:There was a specific reason I wanted to work with him in my early professional life. For as long as I remember, I have had a strong interest in the link between landscape, architecture, and interiors, probably stemming from the importance of the interiors in my childhood home. It didn’t seem possible to break that link. It is the whole that makes this work interesting and important. This is the precise reason why his studio seemed to be the only option to start my professional life
       There were three aspects of that rediscovery for me that came from my training and upbringing, but which I hoped to explore in new and nuanced ways. One was that I have always been drawn to quiet, soothing spaces, often with a religious aspect: geometrical, serene, restrained. It was part of my Benedictine education. The second went hand in hand with that, which was finding craftspeople I could trust to follow me in the direction I wanted to go. The third part was the history of Belgian architecture and design, the decorative arts, the palettes, and the textures.
Yinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas Schuybroek Yinji:Your favorite design master? How did they affect you?
Nicolas Schuybroek:My references are not limited to architecture and are covered by a much broader scope of creative disciplines. These influences range from Russian constructivists as Malevich to land-art artist such as Michael Heizer or Hannsjorg Voth, American minimalist artists such as Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Carl André, Sol LeWitt, dancers and performers as Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker or Alexander Vantournhout. It’s close to impossible to name a single influence within the architecture discipline, but projects from Luis Barragan, Studio Mumbai or Peter Zumthor have always had a strong impact on me.
Yinji:Analyze from your perspective: Why does your country, Belgium, have so many minimalist masters? Is this an impact of the social environment? Even if we are in China, can we still feel Belgium’s remarkable minimalist design style!
Nicolas Schuybroek:I wonder if this tradition comes from the country itself. There might be a link with the natural surroundings, rather than the social environment: the light of the sky, the landscape, the trees, the stones, the sand: soft layers of natural textures, grayish tones, unsaturated, muted colors. This is common to Northern Europe, where everything tends to be subtler than what you find in Southern Europe. But I think there is an important distinction, for example, between Belgian and Scandinavian styles, equally known for spare luxury. Belgium is a small country in the middle of Europe. It is slightly over eleven million people, the size of a large capital city, spread out across a country surrounded by extremely different styles and cultures. A short drive across the country will lead you in completely different worlds. We have had and still have to fight to distinguish ourselves. As a result, in my opinion, there are more powerful materials, a greater diversity of materials, but still used with restraint.
       I have observed remarkable developments on the design scene in Belgium over the last couple of years. Clearly something is happening in Belgium. One of the ways Belgians distinguish themselves is in their ability to elevate everyday design. There’s an incredible concentration of creative minds in this country, and I think we are all forced to raise the bar to a certain level to become noticeable and emerge from the international design pack.Yinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas SchuybroekYinterview.52 : Belgium Design Studio Nicolas Schuybroek

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