Designing ING’s outdoor space: how the spark ignited

Spring 2014. Cédric Marchand, at the time still an interior architect at ING's design unit, walked past the Ghent bookstore Paard van Troje. His eye for beauty was caught by the trapezoidal picnic table outside the store. To try and identify its designer, he took a closer look at the piece. The ‘Vonk Table’ stamp was the first step that would lead to an inspiring collaboration.

A Lucky Strike

As luck would have it, Cédric was working on redesigning the outdoor space of ING Sint-Michielswarande at the time. The goal was to turn the dreary concrete courtyard, across which fans spewed out hot air, into a cozy lunch area for staff. Cédric typed in ‘Vonk Table’ on his laptop and found Jonas Willems, the driving force behind VONK Furniture. 

 Cédric Marchand: “I immediately knew that the Vonk table would fit in perfectly in the outdoor space. Its sleek yet sturdy design and timeless materials appealed to me. And I was charmed by the fact that Jonas was an emerging entrepreneur who produced all of his furniture locally. The only challenge was selling the idea to ING. My colleagues in the Interior Design team (part of ING’s Facility Management) all love interior design, so they were on board straight away. But the Procurement team asked me to draft a tender. When Jonas offered the best value for money, we immediately put in an order for fifteen FUSE picnic tables.”

 Jonas Willems: “I was just starting out as a furnituremaker, so I was determined to land the project. I also knew it was time to streamline my production. When ING took a chance on me and ordered fifteen tables, I started looking for time-saving machinery and a forklift to move the equipment into my workshop. To finance the whole project, I took out a loan with...ING.” 

Fuse Picnic Tables as the Pièce de Résistance

ING was Jonas’s first major order. Two weeks before the tables were to be delivered, the new machines were installed in his workshop. The entire task was challenging, but Jonas met the projected delivery deadline.

Cédric Marchand: “The concrete made way for wooden flooring, onto which we erected a large pergola. We then placed VONK’s tables on the terrace as the pièce de résistance of the outdoor space.”

 Jonas Willems: “The ING staff had clearly been longing for an outdoor seating space. I started installing the tables before noon. The minute one was ready, people sat down at it. 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, but ING asked him to work with afzelia, another stable type of wood. The frame was made of galvanised steel, with a zinc layer for extra scratch resistance. 

 Jonas Willems: “I prefer durable, high-quality materials over cheap ones with frivolous colours. Steel and hardwood are both future-proof. The beautiful thing about combining steel and afzelia is that over time, the two seem to merge. The steel loses its lustre, while the wood turns grey. It's as if time facilitates a material symbiosis. The idea just makes me melt – it’s craftsmanship at its purest.” 

Are you also in search of outdoor furniture for your organization? 

Send us a message, and together we'll explore which pieces best complement your space.

This site is created with the support of:

FIT logo
website door Groovix Web & Media