The 17th edition of the Henry van de Velde Awards and Labels is now upon us. We created these Awards in 1994 at the Vlaams Instituut voor het Zelfstandig Ondernemen [Flemish Institute for Independent Entrepreneurship] (Design Department) because, at the time, neither Belgium nor Flanders presented awards for professionals in design and design-related fields. The Provincial Prizes were all that existed.
Along with a cash prize, we attached several symbols of success to the Awards, such as a silver trophy and a calligraphic certificate. These were created to underline the prestige of the Henry van de Velde Awards. The first trophy was designed by Siegfried De Buck, whose work made him an icon of Belgian silversmithing. We used his design, which took the form of a staff, for five editions. The next trophy was designed by Nedda El-Asmar, a graduate of Artesis University College (then simply the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts) and holder of a Master’s degree from the Royal College of Art in London. The third was made by David Huycke, recently the first designer/artist to become a Doctor of Arts. Helena Schepens, one of our youngest workers in precious metals, and also holder of a Master’s degree from the Royal College of Art in London, was the fourth silversmith to design and make the trophy. Each of the trophies is used for five years.
The certificate had to be calligraphic to illustrate, like the trophy, the importance of the craft aspect. The first calligrapher was Bert Binnenweg, and the second was Brody Neuenschwander, the Texan from Bruges, who worked with Peter Greenaway on films such as ‘The Pillow Book’, ‘Prospero’s Books’ and others. So far, we have stayed with Brody.
The cash prizes are EUR 5,000 per Award, for Career, Company and Young Talent. The Public award is worth EUR 2,500.
Johan Valcke was appointed director of Design Flanders in 1992. In that function he founded the Henry van de Velde Awards. He also founded the Design Flanders Gallery, the Triennials for Design and established the design magazine Kwintessens. He was elected to the Board of WCC-Europe and the Board of BEDA. Today, he remains active in the sounding board group for Design Museum Gent, the general assembly of HISK Gent and the purchasing committee of DIVA Antwerp. In 2018 he opened his gallery VALCKE Art Gallery.
Klara De Smedt is the manager of De Winkelhaak. After obtaining a master’s degree in product development, she worked as a designer and then at Design Flanders for two years before moving to De Winkelhaak. In 2008, Klara De Smedt came up with the co-working concept Bar d’office. Since 2014, she has been one of the driving forces behind ANTWERP. POWERED BY CREATIVES.