Henry van de Velde Awards 2021

Tim Duerinck wins Henry van de Velde Awards with flax string instruments

Vote now for the 2021 Audience Award

Tim Duerinck, PhD researcher at Ghent University, has won the Henry van de Velde Awards 2021 with his flax string instruments. The awards are considered to be the most important design prizes in Belgium and are presented by Flanders DC. In total, there are 17 Henry van de Velde Award winners in 12 different categories each year. However, only one of them can win the Henry van de Velde Public Choice Award 2021 and you decide. Vote now for Tim Duerinck. Why? His innovative flax string instruments offer new sounds and applications for sustainable local materials on the one hand, and for the craft of their makers on the other. Voting is possible until 18 December 2020.

A string instrument no longer has to be made exclusively of wood. That is the merit of Tim Duerinck, PhD researcher in art financed by the FWO with the subject of alternative materials for string instruments at the University of Gent/HoGent/ KASK & Conservatory of Ghent. By combining the traditional craft of ‘violin making’ with high-tech materials and production techniques, the researcher succeeded in developing these innovative instruments. They are certainly innovative: the instruments provide dreams of new sounds and offer new application possibilities for both sustainable local materials and the craft of instrument makers. After all, flax is a craft material with a local history in Flanders and when it is processed into high-tech flax fibre, it becomes also extremely strong and ultra-light. That is exactly what string instruments need: the strong material makes the instruments less vulnerable than conventional wooden instruments.

The flax fibre strings are innovative, but they also have many advantages: they require less maintenance, are more durable and can better withstand fluctuations in temperature or humidity. This makes the instruments cheaper in the long run and always reliable for musicians, both indoors and outdoors. Even in terms of sound, the instruments do not have to compromise, because a violin with a flax fibre sound board has been chosen favourite by experts during scientific listening tests. In 2018, SIM and those present at the SIM User Forum were able to confirm this with their own ears during a similar blind test: a violinist played several violins (1 with a wooden sound board and 4 with a sound board made of composite materials) behind a folding screen and the audience had to guess which material belonged to which violin. Tim Duerinck makes his instruments entirely by hand so that other instrument builders can easily imitate the production method. His work was recently awarded with the Crafts by Bokrijk Award 2021.

The fact that Tim Duerinck won the award is a fine achievement. The Henry van de Velde Awards, presented by Flanders DC, are known as the most important design prizes in Belgium. Designers, design companies, organisations or contractors can register their recent products, services, or projects in order to have a chance of winning the prestigious prize. As design is a broad concept, the awards are divided into twelve different categories: Business Innovation, Consumer, Crafts by Bokrijk, Digital Product, Graphic Design & Communication, Climate Challenge, Habitat, Lifetime Achievement, Young Talent, Company and OVAM Ecodesign Gold Awards. The last category is the Henry van de Velde Public Choice Award, in which the public chooses their favourite product via an online vote. This means that you too can participate: vote for Tim Duerinck and help him achieve this great reward.

To summarise: Why vote for Tim Duerinck?

Tim Duerinck built 5 identical violins, each with a sound board of a different material. One with a traditional sound board made of pine wood and four others with composite materials (plastic combined in different ways with flax or carbon fibre).

Violin making and flax fibre turns out to be a match made in heaven. Why? He succeeded to:

  • develop strong innovative string instruments made of flax with a lot of advantages;
  • make the flax violin sound just as good as a wooden violin;
  • put flax fibre on the map as an ecological alternative to other composite materials.

Also convinced of the added value of these innovative instruments? Vote along.