Relational space: Didier Faustino explores texture, colour and conversation

Ghent, Belgium – ‘It’s all about skin,’ says Didier Faustino, French artist and architect, referring to his design of XYZ Lounge. Not only does the space echo the literal fleshy pinks and soft taupes of skin tones – highlighted by an assemblage of materials in olive green, representing the body’s eventual fusing with earth – but it also considers the tactile interaction between the skin and the furniture and interior. Faustino was given carte blanche in the design of XYZ Lounge, and the interior can be seen as a spatial study of his interest in how bodies relate and respond to the space and objects around them.

Located on the ground floor within a large oval-shaped building complex dating back to 1902, XYZ Lounge is placed at the heart of an integrated culture and living concept by the Liedts-Meesen Foundation. Designed to be a space for dialogue and discussion, a kind of contemporary salon – the quality of the light is the first impression when entering the lounge from the mezzanine by way of a spiral staircase. Light adheres itself to the various surfaces, accentuating the textures. In the hallway that connects to the meeting rooms on the mezzanine, built-in couches draped in greenery invite people to sit and chat while looking down into the restaurant through the pink metal slats of the faux cathedral ceiling protruding up from the lounge.

Melding spatial sensuality with material exploration, the marble surfaces Faustino applies on the bars and walls feel unfathomably light. In fact, the marble is a 3-mm-thick veneer on aluminium – a construction solution made necessary by a three-month installation timeline. In the screening room to the left of the bar areas, Faustino’s Delete Yourself chairs are arranged in a contemporary, stylized interpretation of a terracotta army.

Despite the rigid, structural appearance of Delete Yourself suggesting dubious performance as a seat, it actually graces the reposing body with complete autonomy in interacting with its form.

The spatial design of XYZ Lounge can really be summed up as relational. Visitors are constantly engaged and activated by dialogue, by intellectual stimulation, by the tactility of the interior surfaces – and by the suggestive design that plays with multiple levels of interaction to build an environment of culture and community.

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