Return to all list

Luc Vandensteene (Ex nihilo), the desire to sublimate everything… Design - 22 December 2016

Alexandre Bibaut

Corporate identities, designs or logos are not something to be taken lightly, and nor should labels, containers or catalogues, which are also - and never lose sight of this - the image and representation of a product. This is what Luc Vandensteene, who is both analyst and creator,  typographer and designer, and adviser and artist has understood.

For this rational man, while neither the container nor any identifying attribute must ever take precedence over the product itself, packaging clearly plays a key role that no brand or creator should ever ignore. “Cared for and well thought out, it in fact reinforces - and sometimes very subtly - the greatness of a product, the refinement of a process and the commitment of a business”, he whispers, as if providing the basis for the image strategy he has championed for more than 20 years. The message is that this passionate and curious graphic designer from Mons has made this approach the trademark of his agency – almost its DNA. We met him. His name is Luc Vandensteene, Ex nihilo.

Everything drives the production of ideas…

In the nineties, Luc Vandensteene, then a youngster in the advertising industry, did not take long to find his way in graphic arts. He is a creative, passionate and extremely curious man – very sensitive, too. He breathes in fashions, trends, people. This marks him out from his competitors and means he is on an eternal quest in search of the best angle, the most attractive design, the little revolutionary touch. He works with his team – there are two employees and two freelancers – although it took him some time to design his studio. But he did it in his image, seriously and stubbornly, with passion and a sense of analysis. Today the result is a coherent one. With a range of carefully produced achievements, delighted clients and a logic in projects that speaks volumes for the amazing ability of creative people to translate their clients’ expectations, whether or not they have expressed them, into a few features and attractive sketches.

Subtlety versus sensitivity

Most of the time we start with nothing... to arrive at something that must either carefully define a client’s product or develop something that already exists”, Luc Vandensteene explains. This approach involves subtlety and plenty of sensitivity. This kind of total involvement can shake things up: it is in-depth work going beyond simple representation. All orders develop into a kind of quest for identity: a successful image intended as a vehicle for the greatness, refinement and commitment of a product or a business. The Ex nihilo strategy therefore consists of bringing together the product, its container and the image in a single whole.

The image made one with the product

To respond to the expectations of its clients, basically consisting of SMEs and particularly many food industry producers, Ex nihilo bases itself on images. “A qualitative image, of course”, says the perfectionist designer. Above all, they create a representation that perfectly matches the product and the use. The image forms part of the product, like a second skin. “But without shocking, without being too ostentatious and without trying to steal the show! Without being designed by committee, the image must please as many people as possible and be explicit enough to overcome geographical and linguistic barriers. Today, images defining products are everywhere. That means it’s fantastic to be able to work with care on images of excellent products for our clients. And the more you believe in something, the more creative you become.” That is what undoubtedly explains the agency’s (very) many references, including about 20 brewers, and also producers, artisans, small firms and large groups with bosses looking towards local or international markets. There are so many businesses that have seen the work of these careful professionals as an undeniable asset to help them make the leap towards exporting or promoting themselves, and clients who have spontaneously knocked on the door of Ex nihilo, or historic brands Luc has been able to convince that, as well as being a talented professional, this graphic designer is, above all, a passionate and lovable character.

By Christophe Hay




Quintine - produits avant intervention de Ex Nihilo / before

Quintine - réflexion sur le logo / project

Quintine - nouveau logo / after

Quintine - image actuelle / after

Couilles de singe - avant intervention de Ex Nihilo / before

Couilles de singe - réflexion sur le logo / project

Couilles de singe - image actuelle / after

Couilles de singe - image actuelle / after

Couilles de singe / Monkey Balls - image actuelle (export) / after

St Feuillien - avant intervention de Ex Nihilo / before

St Feuillien - réflexion / project

St Feuillien - image actuelle / after

Further information

Partners for this activity

WBDM is associated with Belgian Boutique and Wallonie Design to promote Belgian talents.
Read more articles on and