© Jean-Pierre Gabriel, Reiner Lautwein
Since the beginning of the practice in 1989, Erik Dhont has worked on a wide variety of projects, and established a client base throughout continental Europe and beyond, in America. Commissions from private individuals, public bodies and commercial institutions have echoed a wide range of contemporary demands and challenges, and have at the same time provided platforms for continuous creativity.
How would modern taste coexist with historical context?
How would 2-dimensional graphic layout transform into 3-dimensional place making?
How would abstract sculpture dialogue with classical topiary?
How would furniture and horticulture illuminate one another?
Such questions are explored from various angles in various means: drawing, collage, model, installation, dance, film, and first of all, gardens.
Erik Dhont sees garden design as a form of art, and he embraces it with imagination in order to give the clients a place to dream. Gardens are places to enjoy and appreciate life, but also places to grow and unwind. No matter if the commission is to restore an old garden or to build a new one, the design emphasis is always on discovering and conceptualizing elements from the past with the practical demands imposed by the present, such as playing, cultivating or healing.
Functionality is balanced with a fine-tuned aesthetic that remains sensitive to the needs of daily use, the chosen plant material, the environmental concerns and the surrounding landscapes. And the essential goal of the garden and landscape is to make sure that “The strongest element is there: you look, you observe, you take time.”
Over the years Erik Dhont has developed a style that remains personal, distinctive and instantly recognizable. Organic shapes on paper are translated into sculptural forms on site which gain their patina as time goes by and the garden matures. It is this sense of rhythm—moments of the day, seasons of the year, and periods of life—that Dhont strives to highlight in his design. And his garden is a space where this sense of rhythm is embodied and performed.
Recent commissions include several private gardens in Switzerland and France, a sculpture garden in California and a shore garden in the Azores. The office also works on social and urban development projects in Brussels.