Furniture, means of transport, lighting … The objects that surround us in everyday life are numerous, but they often lead an anonymous existence. And yet the design of our daily environment is an important part of our cultural heritage. After all, behind every object lies a piece of history that tells us a little bit more about the society in which they play a role. That is why the Flanders Architecture Institute (VAi) set up a broad project on designer heritage.


Since 2013, the VAi has been working intensively on design, including design for interiors, furniture, ceramics, textiles, silverware and all kinds of applied arts. Attention is paid to both small-scale artisanal practice and industrial design.

Several objectives underlie this project. To begin with, the VAi wants to catch up with the registration and long-term preservation of private designer heritage, as valuable cultural heritage and as source material for both historical research and design research. The project also seeks to raise awareness of its importance among designers, heritage managers and cultural heritage organizations and to stimulate a specific policy. Lastly, it seeks to build up and pass on expertise regarding the preservation of designer heritage.

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The VAi is looking for design archives to further map out this heritage. It can be an archive of a tile company, design drawings for wallpaper or the correspondence of a glass painter with his or her clients. Do you yourself have an archive or do you know of archival material or collections held by other organizations or private individuals? Let us know at

Architectural Archives Database

Are you looking for designers and their archives? Search the central Architectural Archives Database. If you enter the keyword ‘design’ under ‘Search in the text’, you will find more than 200 archive records, about 2000 records of designers and other relevant parties, 300 organization records (companies, manufacturers, collaborations) and about ten publication records (mainly of design journals).

Oral history

The cultural heritage of design does not only consist of the sketches, models, photographs or correspondence of designers. There is also a strong interaction in design between explicit knowledge and unconscious knowledge, knowledge that may be passed on but which is usually not recorded in written form. That knowledge is literally in the hands and heads of the ‘makers’. Nevertheless, in order to document some of this embodied knowledge, the VAi conducted four interviews with designers from different disciplines. In addition, the VAi also recorded conversations with three policymakers who have played a key role in the design sector over the past decades and documented the last days of the Van den Berghe-Pauvers furniture workshop.

Overview projects

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