Best of est 2018 | Top Ten International Designers

    • Without further ado, we introduce our top ten international designers for the year, that starred on est and excelled in 2018.

      Great design graces our screen daily here at est – so you can imagine how hard it was to refine our top ten international designers for 2018. Joining the high calibre crowd are; renowned Belgium designers Vincent Van Duysen, Hans Verstuyft and Nicolas Schuybroek, Denmark’s Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen, Britain’s Simon Astridge, Luke McLaren and Rob Excell and Sheena Murphy, and Canada’s Kim Pariseau, Alain Carle, Antonio Di Bacco and Cecile Combelle.

      Call them the crème de la crème, these international designers are the names to know in 2018 and their ten out of ten design work has us assuming there’s only more success to follow. For some, their engaging and inspiring work may just be welcoming global attention, and for others, it’s but another year of design ingenuity that warrants international recognition.

      “Undoing the clutter and getting to the core; paring back to the bone and achieving an authenticity, simplicity, and purity. When you refine excess you engage with the fundamental aspects of life I consider most important – eating, sleeping, conversing.”

      – Vincent Van Duysen

      Vincent Van Duysen

      It would be a disservice to the design community to not recognise Vincent Van Duysen in our top ten international designers for 2018. A perennial favourite, it’s a name admired and work aspired to by designers globally, seeking to emulate what he does best: curating ‘the art of living well’. Today he leads a team of twenty five and projects that span Europe, the Middle-East and in the USA, while also working across product and lighting design, appointed Art Director of Molenti&Co in 2016. In the same year this multidisciplinary approach earned him the title of ‘Belgian Designer of the Year’ and the ‘Flemish Culture Prize for Design’.

      Vincent Van Duysen

      “Some say our interiors look empty. I think we focus on what’s important, and that’s why beauty is expressed more intensely. So it’s an invisible approach, rather than using explicit forms, objects and materials.”

      – Hans Verstuyft

      Hans Verstuyft

      Another prominent protagonist in the Belgium’s brimming design scene is Hans Verstuyft, founder of his namesake studio. The maestro of minimalism has quietly turned heads with a care for his craft and its raw beauty, sticking to a traditional approach to reform. Alongside his firm of four, Hans focuses on process, to create not a new space or home, rather a new way of life. This approach has remained largely the same since the firm’s first residential project eighteen years ago – a home that is just as unapologetically contemporary today.

      “We believe in durability, in terms of aesthetics, materiality and craftsmanship. We aim at always arriving at the maximum of expressivity with the minimum of expression, and we believe that’s an eloquent gesture in a time where images, forms and sounds are ever so overwhelming.”

      – Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen

      Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen

      Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen has led famed firm Norm Architects’ growth across industrial design, residential architecture, commercial interiors, photography and art direction. Taking us to some of the most rugged regions of Northern Europe, the firm are all about creating refined shelter from the elements, while cherishing its untouched beauty. But their name isn’t just engraved on the spaces we covet, it’s objects too — including the familiar Menu Bottle Grinders and Stand Washbasins.

      Jonas Bejerre Poulsen of Norm Architects

      “A home is for living in, and our clients’ specific needs are always central to our work. This means creating spaces which flow and work hard for their intended use, whether for a busy young family, or a couple building their ideal home.”

      – McLaren Excell

      McLaren Excell

      Childhood friends and founding partners Luke McLaren and Rob Excell established their eponymous studio eight years ago, as a standpoint of British craftsmanship. We first discovered their British charm in the Park Corner Barn, demonstrating an artisanal pride in using natural, tactile and hard wearing materials. And it’s that passion for material and texture that has made their work covetable from across the shores.

      Robert Excell
      Luke McLaren

       “I think my own personal life journey is what influences my work and what has seen it evolve. Rather than trends or travel, which do of course influence us all, I have seen a shift in my design preferences based on what’s going on in my life. Life is many things, and one thing it most certainly is, is a sensory journey.”

      – Sheena Murphy


      Native Brit Sheena Murphy, founder of nune (formerly sheep + stone) garnered experience in a number New York interior design firms, making a name for herself with a horde of commercial projects. Soon after it was time to start her own thing; to demonstrate her British eye for refinement, with a New York City zest. Recently returning to live in London and opening up another studio here, we’re excited to see what’s next for the global studio.

      Tor Sauder (left) Sheena Murphy (right)

      “We imagine projects as stories, or at least as decors in which the stories take place. We would say there is a cinematographic approach to design in our practice. And our clients are the protagonists. We always base our design on the sequences that will shape the way people live in the spaces.”

      – Cecile Combelle

      Atelier Barda

      Antonio Di Bacco and Cecile Combelle, young graduates from Toulouse, France, founded the Montreal-based firm Atelier Barda in 2012. Clients were quick to point out Atelier Barda’s “French touch”, while they pushed the boundaries away from the average and accepted architecture paradigm. But as Cecile puts it, no matter what the design references are, it’s the emotion – being attentive to feelings – that inspires and interests them.

      “When you work with us, you gain access to these practised people and their craftsmanship. We believe in making, imagining, listening, learning, and empowering Workshop members, our collaborators and clients. Art, music, travelling, cuisine, words, wine, clothes, people and exhibitions inspire and inform our projects.”

      – Simon Astridge

      Simon Astridge

      London Architect Simon Astridge and his studio first caught our eye in our search for clever extensions. But we are not alone – Simon Astridge Architecture Workshop have built a global reputation on both their conceptual approach and awareness of how to design to people’s everyday needs. Simon prides himself on the collaboration of a team of architects, designers and crafts-people, whom he credits as the defining strength of the Workshop for their wisdom, knowledge and dedication.

      “To me, an appareil is an amalgam of things that contribute to its whole, to its functioning. That’s how I see my projects. Many different people are involved, like ingredients in a recipe. Each artisan and creator I work with lends their own personal touch, their own added value. The result is always interesting and unique.”

      – Kim Pariseau

      Kim Pariseau

      One glance at Appareil Architecture’s designs and you’d be forgiven for mistaking their work as Northern European. The Nordic sensibility emanating from the Montreal firm’s work reflects the history and craft of founder Kim Pariseau, and her constant quest to simplify design.Founding the firm off the back of an architectural competition in Montreal, Kim is proudest of the team she has created under the name Appareil Architecture. And if you’re not familiar with their refined work, your Instagram feed may well be.

      “The use of raw, authentic, simple and noble materials, helps us create pared-down architecture that most importantly has a warm soul as well as a strong temperament. All in all, it could be summarised as a quest for in-depth substance and warmth.”

      – Nicolas Schuybroek

      Nicolas Schuybroek

      Twice named as one of the world’s top 100 interior designers by French Architectural Digest, Belgian Architect Nicolas Schuybroek has long been on our watch list. In fact, like many others we’ve crowned him the monarch of reinvented minimalism – and for good reason. Time and time again his attention to volume, light and play on proportions is just as significant as his attention to detail.

      “[The home] becomes a device to perceive the landscape rather than a fixed, self-referenced architecture.”

      – Alain Carle

      Alain Carle

      Alain Carle

      While some of our favourite houses have been striking, bold statements amongst their surroundings we have always held a soft spot for where architectural form melds into the natural landscape. Alain Carle Architecte is a designer well-versed in this earth-rooted design, sharing two stellar projects with us in 2018 – a chalet and a striking abode on a man-made island in Ontario. With a mutual affinity for black exteriors, we’re looking forward to what’s in store for 2019.

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