We learn the Belgian way in the bathroom with St-Niklaas-based interior designer Dries De Malsche.
What strikes you about interior designer Dries De Malsche’s work is his passion for natural materials. Since the designer established his practice a decade ago, he has forged a reputation for reductive interiors that reflect an astute eye for detail. Attune to each client, and their lifestyle, Dries is not driven by trends but traditional artisanship, favouring an atmosphere of warmth, lightness and tranquillity.
In this feature, we get to know the designer’s signature approach to bathroom design through three defining areas: context and craftsmanship, materials, lighting and tapware.
Produced in partnership with Abey, exclusive Australian retailer of Gessi
Context and Craftsmanship
Context is crucial to residential design – and Dries ensures that the landscape in which his project is set is genuinely reflected inside. For example, Residence DVB is located in the dunes of the Belgian seaside resort town of Knokke, so all materials and shapes refer to the colour and feel of the sand and sea. “All flooring is very textured, referring to the feeling of walking on sand, while all details are rounded and soft,” he says.
Dries says he also engages international artisans to “cross-fertilise the beauty of arts, design and craftsmanship” in his projects. It’s in this way the designer can drive a unique and personal outcome for his clients.
Dries attributes his exclusive application of natural materials to a project’s atmosphere and overall result. “I like working with natural materials such as natural stone or wood and exploring possibilities through the application,” he says.
The designer is very particular about evoking a calm energy in the bathroom. “The quality and feel of materials are one of the important elements which contribute to this feeling,” he says, especially given as he points out, they are one of the first and last spaces we use before or after sleeping. Dries is not one to shy away from bold natural stone in his custom sinks, vanities – or shower cladding; be it a pungent pink hue as seen in their Cascais Residence bathroom or deep, bold veining to accentuate refinement in their City Apartment JP.
Lighting and Tapware
Dries is steadfast on introducing natural light and ventilation in all of his projects – without sacrificing his clients’ privacy. When it comes to artificial lighting, Dries leans on task and accent lighting in the bathroom that highlight materials and meet day-to-day functional requirements. New York-based Apparatus Lighting, and closer to home, Belgian architectural lighting brand Delta Light are what the designer commonly specifies in his residential projects.
A consistent thread through every bathroom Dries has completed is the use of Gessi fixtures. Above all, they manifest a desire for quality and endurance and place value in designer-product collaborations. The Gessi Inciso range was designed by famed American architect David Rockwell, based in New York City with studios in Madrid and Los Angeles, known for their large-scale luxury residential and commercial projects.
The Gessi Incisco range cuts through with contrast against the sand-toned stone in Dries’ Residence DVB – and the mineral paint walls in Cascais Residence – while the Gessi Inciso Three-Hole Basin Mixer acts as a robust extension of the rich custom stone basin in City Apartment TP. In City Apartment JP, Dries lets the gold Gessi Incisco range become a jewel-like feature above the basin, bath and in the shower, completing the ornate and expressive application of natural stone.