Perfect Imperfect


For Boris Vervoordt, perfection is about imperfection. Whenever the Belgian designer walks into his home, which has occupied a place in the medieval core of Antwerp since it was built in 1557, he covets what he calls “the beauty of imperfection.” Although he chooses his finishes and furnishings with care, he prefers that his thick ceiling beams remain scarred and blackened by age, that the reclaimed oak floorboards be uneven and knotted, that the concrete form of a fireplace register discolorations, that the bluestone floors buckle. “Imperfection is authenticity,” he emphasizes, “and that is the very quality you find in nature and in people. Perfection doesn’t exist.”

Vervoordt, who is the son of the illustrious Belgian designer Axel Vervoordt, has lived in the house he now shares with his writer husband, Michael, since 1995, though then he was residing alone in an apartment that was part of the structure. The couple now occupies the entire two-bedroom residence, having made changes along the way, including transforming an upstairs loft area into the master suite. And what was once a cutting-edge streetfront gallery, “spare and all white,” that Axel had opened and that Boris ran, is now a moody yet inviting office. 

Over the centuries, the house has assumed many identities—as an inn where guests could stable their horses on premises, as a coffee roasting facility, and as a residence for city burghers (merchants). Vervoordt admits that much of the house is bathed in a continuous darkness—not an ominous one, but, rather, a contemplative cast that fosters reflection. Even though most of the main rooms face south and into a private courtyard, “Sunlight doesn’t get into the house much,” he says. “I’ve embraced the spareness of the space.” 

This story appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of MILIEU. To read the complete story or to see all photos, visit the MILIEU Newsstand to purchase this issue in print or visit to purchase this issue in digital format.