Erik van Gelder: Gardens that dreams are made of
TEXT: MAYA WITTERS | PHOTOS: PETER BAAS
Erik Van Gelder has been designing top-end outdoor spaces for nearly 20 years. His constant pursuit to exceed the expectations of his customers has earned him consistent rave reviews, as well as a Garden of the Year victory in 2022. “I want my designs to feel like they were simply meant to be.”
A garden that looks stunning all year round, that feels luxurious yet superbly functional, that connects the interior and exterior spaces seamlessly, and most importantly, that allows you to relax completely … It may sound like a dream, but Erik Van Gelder is in the business of making dreams like these a reality with his garden designs.
Van Gelder takes on projects of all sizes, from roof terraces to entire estates, both in his native Netherlands and abroad. He works with a team of dedicated specialists to ensure the highest quality in all aspects of the design, from water features to lighting and the materials he uses. The result: outdoor spaces that are not only beautiful, but also perfectly suited to the needs and desires of each client. We sat down with Van Gelder to learn more about his design philosophy and what drives him as a landscape architect.
Nature and architecture in perfect harmony
Balance is the key to any good design, explains Van Gelder. “It’s essential to have the architectural elements and the outdoor space meld together seamlessly in a way that enhances both. We achieve this by taking into account sight lines, making optimal use of the natural environment, choosing materials that complement each other or contrast in an interesting way. Lighting design also plays a major role in bringing the space together.”
Van Gelder’s approach to landscape design results in garden spaces that exist harmoniously within the wider landscape and that let the existing architecture shine. “We want all the pieces of the puzzle to fit together perfectly, so that it feels almost like there was no other way – that this is how it was meant to be. When the indoor and outdoor space flow into each other seamlessly, both can be used optimally by occupants. The greatest compliment for our designs is when we revisit the home and we see that the owner and their entire family are gathered in the garden, using it just as it was intended.”
As one of only a handful of landscape architects who work at this level in the Netherlands, Van Gelder’s designs have naturally attracted the attention of the media. His designs are frequently featured in magazines and publications. He has also published his own book, Masterly Garden Design, which not only highlights his creations but also turns his design philosophy into a tangible object that looks stunning on any coffee table.
Vacation in your backyard – every single day
One central tenet of Van Gelder’s design philosophy is that of wellness in your own home. The idea of a staycation takes on an entirely new meaning in his gardens. They exude a sense of subdued luxury and elegance that is rarely found outside of top-end hotels. Investing in a Van Gelder garden means coming home every day to a space where stress can be washed away by the beauty of your surroundings.
“Creating that feeling of an escape from the flow of everyday life, that’s something we excel at,” explains Van Gelder. “Whether it’s a small roof terrace in the bustling city or a personal oasis in the midst of nature, we want people to feel like they are on vacation every time they come home.” This commitment to excellence paid off last year when Van Gelder won the coveted Garden of the Year award for his work on a property in Zwijndrecht.
After nearly two decades in the business, Van Gelder is just as keen as ever to create dream gardens for his clients. “Winning awards is great, but surprising our customers with something that exceeds even their wildest expectations is the best feeling there is. One of our clients sent us an email after his garden was completed. He said that he had just turned on the lights while the sun was setting and that he had been staring at his own backyard for two hours, completely mesmerised by its beauty. There’s no greater compliment – that’s exactly why we do what we do.”
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