Sophisticated designs with a clever twist
TEXT: THESSA LAGEMAN | PHOTO © BYANOUK
Anouk Taeymans, 29, a versatile architect and designer from Antwerp, expresses her sense of aesthetics with her design label byANOUK and her witty lifestyle brand #BITCHPLEASE. She also gives advice as a design expert to individuals and on Belgian national television. She is proudest of MYSHELF, her innovative design shelf that was launched earlier this year.
The shelf, an inventive combination of creativity and technology, is made from oak wood. “A beautiful, timeless material,” says Taeymans. “People love the fact the shelf is completely adjustable in length and that it can be personalised with all kinds of add-ons: boxes, hooks and rails.” The idea came when she was living in a small apartment in Norway, and was looking for a way to create a few nice-looking shelves in her living room that would fit perfectly. “It turned out many people are looking for something similar,” she says. Immediately, she received many enthusiastic reactions and orders through her web shop. Soon she will offer the shelf in furniture shops as well.
After Taeymans graduated as a civil engineer architect in Belgium, she lived in Norway for four years working as an architect. She also acquired a masters in project management and entrepreneurship and taught sustainable architecture at the University of Trondheim. When she returned to Belgium to establish her own brand byANOUK, she was very much inspired by typical Scandinavian designs and the sophisticated interiors of the North.
“In Scandinavia, home interiors are considered very important, because with the long winters people spend a lot of time indoors,” Taeymans noticed. Therefore, people are often prepared to spend quite a lot of money on it. “They love to have robust, quality furniture and appreciate bright, airy rooms with natural materials, like wood, stone and marble.”
She noticed that in Belgium more and more people are starting to care about their interiors. “They realise your home is a place where you can unwind and relax and that its interior reflects your personality.” She adds that Scandinavian designs have become very popular in her country too over the past few years. “It’s definitely not just a temporary trend. I think it is a style that will stay.”
Sometimes, Taeymans’ clients first buy a MYSHELF from her and then find out that she can also advise them about their entire interior. “This is one of the favourite parts of my work,” she smiles. “It creates a bond when you visit people in their own houses. I have met so many sympathetic and funny people through this work. It is great that they are often open to new ideas.”
Some of her clients have their homes furnished already, but like her to help bringing some cohesion and the right look and feel to their interior. “The interiors often lack a common theme and are sometimes a bit chaotic.” Others, such as expats who move to a new place, give her carte blanche for their housing setup, furniture and decoration.
In the past year, Taeymans has been taking part in a programme on national Belgian television as a design expert. She visits special and beautiful homes in Flanders belonging to, for example, designers and architects and analyses the strengths and weaknesses of their interiors. “I have learned a lot from this and gained much inspiration for my own designs too,” she says. In another television programme that has just started, she advises people who have just bought their first house about their furniture, style and decoration.
Other projects Taeymans is involved in include the design of jewellery and clothes, with her brand #BITCHPLEASE. “This is more like a side project that got out of hand,” she remarks. As a kind of joke, she started designing sweaters and t-shirts with funny prints like ‘SMALL BOOBS BIG AMBITIONS’ and ‘DRAMA IS NOT A CRIME’ together with a friend. However, the first 150 pieces were sold out in no time. Now she has already designed the fourth collection and shops throughout Belgium and soon in the rest of the Benelux are selling it. “It turned out many women recognise themselves in the texts.” She adds: “I sometimes like to use humour in my work. The design world can be so serious.”
A combination of all of Taeymans’ different work, together with a selection of design accessories from her favourite Scandinavian and Belgian design labels, can be found throughout the month of December at A Better Blend, a temporary concept store in the Grand Bazar in Antwerp. “We started doing this last year and it proved to be a big success, because many people are looking for nice and special gifts during the Christmas period.”