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Belgian designer Geoffroy van Hulle on his design, taste and being a sixth-generation decorator.

Geoffroy van Hulle and Six Generations of Belgian Decorators

Design Style

Geoffroy van Hulle designs and decorates houses, apartments and restaurants in Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, the U.K., France, and the U.S.

He describes his interior design style as modern with baroque and classical influences. He cites Leonardo da Vinci, Tony Duquette, St. Nicholas, and his mother as his most prominent sources of inspiration.

Van Hulle calls his style eclectic. He tries to combine his excellent working knowledge of every period with something from various cultural streams. He intends to create a holistically inspiring aesthetic. He uses colour to bring absolute joy into a space and tries to break through outmoded notions of respectability.

The living area of Geoffroy van Hulle's house, in the Belgium town of Maldegem, is an eclectic selection of fabrics, furniture, and objects collected from all over the world.
The living area of Geoffroy van Hulle’s house, in the Belgium town of Maldegem, is an eclectic selection of fabrics, furniture, and objects collected from all over the world.

Travel is an important muse for van Hulle. He tries to bring something back from every corner of the globe, and he keeps these unusual objects on hand to use later should they suit a particular interior. Geoffroy van Hulle wants to demonstrate his perspective on beauty “in the interior of a house but also in terms of life in general.”

For Van Hulle, his profession is his hobby. He never wakes up dreading work and pronounces it as the most fulfilling, inspiring and enriching profession on earth.

As a decorator, you make the life of your customer more beautiful. That is a real gift, to be allowed to do that for someone.

The orangery at the end of the courtyard garden is designed as a sort of hunting lodge, with a number of chandeliers, and ethnographic prints and photos that Geoffroy van Hulle has collected over the years.
The orangery at the end of the courtyard garden is designed as a sort of hunting lodge, with a number of chandeliers, and ethnographic prints and photos.

A Rich History

Van Hulle was born and raised as an interior decorator. Six generations of decorators and furniture makers precede him.

In 1918 at the end of WW1, van Hulle’s great-grandmother decided to open a shop next to the studio. “People were euphoric that the war was over and had money to spend on their interiors. That was an enormous luxury after four years of fear and insecurity.” He says, “My grandmother, and later my mother, expanded and enlarged the shop. It grew, step by step, to a company specialized in every aspect of interiors, at the more classical end of the spectrum.”

We started out as furniture makers in Maldegem. Five generations before me huge pieces of furniture were being made here in the studio, for the good citizenry who were looking to create their first ‘dining rooms’ during that period.

The large garden room. The objects, or in Geoffroy van Hulle’s words the ‘finds’, from around the world: From a Japanese house-temple, a Flemish 18th-century cabinet, a Moroccan mosque chandelier, and antique fabrics which he uses on the sofas and chairs. The fabric on the lamp on the right is by Jim Thompson.
The large garden room. The objects, or in Geoffroy’s words the ‘finds’, from around the world: From a Japanese house-temple, a Flemish 18th-century cabinet, a Moroccan mosque chandelier, and antique fabrics which he uses on the sofas and chairs. The fabric on the lamp on the right is by Jim Thompson.

Personal Design Tastes and Values

Today, Geoffroy van Hulle still lives and works in the Belgian town of Maldegem. His home is right next to the shop his great-grandmother started and showcases his design style.

“The front has a closed gable with just two windows. That’s the reason that the whole house develops towards the back. We live in a town centre but still enjoy our privacy. The majority of the windows have a view of the courtyard garden that joins the house to the orangery. The garden has both the feeling of space and a safe cloistered air.” He says of the house.

On the upper-most level of Geoffroy van Hulle’s home is where his studio and workspace can be found.
On the upper-most level of Geoffroy van Hulle’s home is where his studio and workspace can be found.

Cosiness and livability are the most important aspects to consider for van Hulle when decorating the interior of a home. “Sometimes I see the most wonderful interiors in magazines, but I ask myself whether anyone actually lives in them. A book really doesn’t have to lie perfectly straight on a table, and cushions don’t have to always be stood perfectly next to each other in an orderly row.” He says.

He focuses on lighting and illumination before anything else, “I play with chiaroscuro.” He says, “Dark areas where one point is perfectly illuminated, a dark room next to a really light room. A table exclusively lit by candlelight.”

The master bedroom in chiaroscuro, an effect of the contrasted light and shadow that Geoffroy van Hulle likes to incorporate into many of his designs.
The master bedroom in chiaroscuro, an effect of the contrasted light and shadow that Geoffroy likes to incorporate into his designs.

Another critical element for Van Hulle is a hearth, and he believes that candles and flowers are essential – “No artificial led light can compete with the light of a candle and no air freshener can match the perfume of a freshly cut bouquet.”