“My ideas come from gut feelings – first about locus genii, then architectural structure. From there I can start layering and storytelling.”
Without pertaining to a definitive style, Belgian artist and designerJean-Philippe Demeyer tends to have deliberate, and distinctive creations.
In describing his own work, Demeyer can sum up his exuberant, playful and at times anarchic portfolio with two words - ‘fearless and joyful.’
Drawn to nature, he sees inspiration everywhere: in gardens, museums, fashion, and historical interiors. But he needs to empty his mind to be creative. "Inspiration comes when you are open to it. When there is a space for it to fill. It isn’t good to be busy all the time, for example scrolling on the phone. You see far too much, while seeing nothing at all. It prevents the mind from being empty, and emptiness is exactly what you need for inspiration to come."
Scattered with bursting colours, bold stripes, and punchy patterns, he surprisingly cites Axel Vervoordt as one of his biggest inspirations. “I have great admiration for the work of other decorators,” Demeyer says, “but I can only be myself. My ideas come from gut feelings—first about locus genii, then architectural structure. From there I can start layering and storytelling.”
Until recently he combined life and work within a moated, medieval hunting lodge in which he shared a space with his creative and life partners Frank Ver Elst and Jean-Paul Dewever.
For him, home is as much creative playground as retreat. “We are all partners in the business. Frank has a very good eye and reins me in when I go too far. Jean-Paul is finance and organization,” he says. Demeyer flexes his style to suit those of his clients and is inevitably most himself when it comes to decorating his own homes.
Their latest project was inspired by a sentence they read in a travel magazine ‘Comporta - Europe’s best-kept secret.’
Detouring on their travel, it was love at first sight, igniting the project. “We made a detour on our way home and fell in love with the place—more than 35 miles of empty beach, so much space, clean Atlantic Ocean, pine trees and paddy fields.”
Bound by too many regulations at the seaside, they found a small farmhouse an hour’s drive inland, surrounded by nearly 45 acres of olive trees.
Traditionally constructed from rammed earth, the homestead was modest in its undulated landscape of bleached grassed, and dark trees. Updated with dark metal window frames, and poured concrete flooring, new terraces have been created that are used for alfresco dining all year round. Demeyer and his partners spend 3 weeks there in the summer, and again in the winter – then any moment they can snatch some time away.
The front of the house features a fountain designed by Demeyer, at the back a simple rectangular swimming pool that’s only embellishment is a Grecian-esque line drawing by English artist and designer Luke Edward Hall. Which is an artwork of six classical male figures who stride across the bottom.
With thick earth walls, the insides of the home are bright with rich burgundy ceilings, the colours blue and yellow also feature which are the traditional colours of the exteriors of houses in the Alentejo.
In the living room a heavy woollen blanket was locally woven to cover the floor and line the walls behind the fitted sofa. A pair of large 1940’s turquoise pottery paws make coffee tables, with a cushion staring overhead with appliqué eyes. In the three bedrooms there are customized wardrobes, with doors panelled with reed grass used locally to make bags. “I found an old lady in her 80s who agreed to make all 12 panels.” Spanish tiles are in the kitchen, and materials are also rooted in tradition, but like all Demeyer’s work the result is fresh, unlike anything that has been seen before. A weathered table in the kitchen wears a bold skirt with random patchwork. The dining table has been painted by Demeyer himself, and a sideboard is upholstered in his own JPDemeyer&Co fabric.
Unexpected and artfully original, balanced, structured and comfortable – none of these details are lost, all are certain to delight.
Text — Adapted from original AD article
Photography — Miguel Flores-Vianna for AD
Design — Jean-Philippe Demeyer
Location — Comporta, Portugal