It’s a sunny September day in Paris, and Belgian designer Arthur Vandergucht is setting up his work in an old factory in the city’s 3rd arrondissement. Across the rest of the capital, design enthusiasts arrived in droves in time for Paris Design Week and hoping to catch a glimpse of the next best thing. Having only graduated in 2020, and now one of the few designers chosen to show at the city-wide event at the Espace Commines, Vandergucht has seemingly hit the ground running – and could very well be the rising star that the eagle-eyed trend spotters are looking.
Hitting things fast seems to be Vandergucht’s modus operandi – whether it’s when he’s back skating in his hometown of Ghent or kicking it out at a hardcore gig (we actually start our conversation based on the band’s T-shirt he wore, which he paired with Supreme jeans). However, his craft requires a more deliberate, steadier hand. A welder by trade, Vandergucht creates perfectly executed metal furniture, with folds and curves artfully secured by intricate trivets. And while he attributes much of his creativity to the skate scene—he talks at length about the things he and his friends would build to create ramps from found objects—it’s the family garage specifically where his design abilities blossomed. “My love for industrial materials and traditional connections came from childhood,” he says. “I grew up in my father’s garage where I saw him working with cars and car parts. I remember seeing so much sheet metal being repaired and restored, that I became fascinated by the many possibilities the material offered.”
“Skating influences my work by teaching me to look at things in a different way”
Inspired, he went on to study metalwork in high school, before attending the Luca School of Arts to earn his degree in interior design. Now – the designer practices on a more micro level and puts his emphasis on the objects that fill the space rather than the space itself. Recently, his work was acquired by the Copenhagen design label Tableau, which sells his pieces via its web store. Here, he talks exclusively to Hypebeast about how skating turned him into a designer, his dream collaborators, and his enduring admiration for British design icon Max Lamb.
Hypebeast: What are the things that inspire you, and especially the designers, craftsmen or architects you look up to?
Arthur Vandergucht: It is fascinating to see great designers with their own distinctive unique style. It’s something I look up to and it’s what inspires me the most. For example, Max Lamb. He is a designer who has this style where every design speaks for itself – they don’t need much explanation.
We talked a lot about music and skating. How did you end up in both of these scenes, and how does it influence your work?
AV: I started skating when I was 15 because of some friends – simply because skating was something that seemed super cool and I wanted to be able to do it. Skating taught me to never give up and to keep going – it’s a textbook example of trial and error. This is something I use in my design career; I’m not easily satisfied with something I make, it has to meet the requirements I set. I always try to push myself further and deeper to get a better design.
The best thing about skating is that you are free; the city is yours and no one will stop you. From a young age, I discovered myself through skating. It influences my work by looking at things in a different way. As a skater you also have to be creative with everything you find around you to manage to make the scene yours.
Can you tell me about your relationship with the hardcore music scene?
AV: I got into punk and hardcore through skating and the people I met doing it. One of my best friends is a singer or a punk band “Barno Koevoet” – he is a great musician. I listen to a lot of 80s punk. It brings me back to a time I myself never knew. The bands I really appreciated are Black Flag, The Cramps, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and – of course, my favorite – The Damned. The singer is just as sick.
What kinds of things do you aspire to do through your work?
AV: Selling is not necessarily my main goal. I just want to reach a much wider audience, and show the world who I am and what I can do. Right now I’m mainly working on building a name and giving myself room to grow. I would like to show my pieces to the wider public so that people can be stimulated by the designs I create and the materials I use.
What is the dream collaboration?
AV: I would love to do something for a fashion brand in time, like designing a store or a custom commission. Designing the interior for a coffee bar also seems like a cool job. A collaboration with Supreme would be a dream. But I strongly believe that everything in life comes at the right moment and when it does you have to grab that opportunity with both hands.