Design of the ING outdoor space: how the spark ignited

Spring 2014. Cédric Marchand, then still an interior architect at ING's design cell, walked past the Ghent bookstore "Paard van Troje". His eye for beauty was drawn to the trapezoid-shaped picnic table outside the store. He examined the piece of furniture closely, looking for information about its designer. The "Vonk Table" stamp was the hint towards an inspiring collaboration.

A Lucky Strike

As luck would have it, Cédric was working on the redesign of the ING Sint-Michielswarande outdoor space. The dreary concrete courtyard, over which fans blew their warm air, needed to become a cozy lunch area for the staff. Cédric opened his laptop, typed in 'Vonk Table', and found the details of Jonas Willems, the driving force behind VONK Furniture.

Cédric Marchand: “I was immediately convinced that the Vonk table would fit perfectly in the outdoor space setup. The sleek yet sturdy design and timeless material selection appealed to me. The idea that Jonas was an emerging entrepreneur producing his furniture locally was charming. The only challenge was to sell it to ING. My colleagues from the Interior Design team in facility management, all design enthusiasts, agreed right away. However, my procurement colleagues asked me to draft a tender. Jonas offered the best value for money and got the order for 15 Fuse picnic tables."

Jonas Willems: "As a budding furniture maker, I was eager to land the ING project. It was time to streamline my production. When ING placed an order for 15 picnic tables, I immediately began searching for time-saving machinery and a forklift to move the equipment into my workshop. To finance all this, I took out a loan with ... ING.”

Fuse Picnic Tables as the Pièce de Résistance

For Jonas, this was his first major order. Two weeks before the 15 picnic tables were to be delivered, the machines were installed in his workshop. It was a challenging task, but he met the projected delivery time.

Cédric Marchand: “The concrete had to make way for wooden flooring, on which we erected a large pergola. On the wooden terrace, the VONK Furniture tables were positioned, serving as the pièce de résistance of the outdoor space."

Jonas Willems: "The ING staff clearly longed for an outdoor seating space. I started installing the tables before noon. As soon as one was ready, people began to sit. By the time I had placed the last table, the terrace was full."

Material Symbiosis at Its Best

Jonas usually uses iroko hardwood for his furniture. ING wanted afzelia, which is also a stable wood type. The frame is made of galvanized steel, the zinc layer providing extra scratch resistance.

Jonas Willems: "I prefer strong quality materials over cheap kinds and frivolous colors. Steel and hardwood are future-proof. What's beautiful about the combination of steel and afzelia is that over time, they seem to merge. The steel loses its luster and the wood turns gray. It's as if time facilitates a material symbiosis. The idea melts my heart for pure craftsmanship."

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