Ensembles showcases the results of the restoration of three major interiors in our collection. Recently three ensembles by Henry van de Velde, Huib Hoste and Alfred Hendrickx were inspected and treated with the support of the Léon Courtin-Marcelle Bouché Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation. There is also a unique piece of office furniture on display that was designed by Jules Wabbes for the Foncolin office building in Brussels and which Design Museum Gent has on long-term loan from the same fund.
Furniture for the Thyl van de Velde House
Henry van de Velde, the most prominent Belgian modernist designer, designed this ensemble as a wedding gift for his son Thyl. Over time, this furniture had been covered with a rather sloppily applied layer of high-gloss varnish. We exposed the original paint layer again, revealing a lovely patina. This proved technically unfeasible for the top of the large table. The paint layers had deteriorated too much, and the chemicals had become mixed. We chose to apply a new coat of paint to the table top instead. The original layer of the underside of the coffee table was revealed to be different from the blue used for the rest of the ensemble. We restored this original black layer. The original blue colour was maintained as is, in its rather battered state, on the table top. The wear and tear is the outcome of the intensive use of this table and is part of its life story. The left sideboard has not yet been restored. During the treatment of the right-hand sideboard it was revealed that the doorknobs were also originally black.
Sofa and chairs from the House of the Province of Antwerp at Expo 58
This sofa and chairs were displayed in 1958 at an exhibition of the Province of Antwerp about arts and crafts at the Brussels World Expo. The upholstery of the sofa had lost its original shape. Seat filling had been added in a rather unconventional manner during an earlier, amateur restoration. Instead of using jute webbing, the restorer used a plate to keep everything in place. As a result, the seat looked very puffy, whereas Hendrickx had designed a flat, level seat. We tried to approximate his design with our restoration. Moreover, the polyurethane foam in the armchairs and sofa had hardened, becoming brittle. We replaced this chemically unstable material with two stable materials, restoring the seat’s firmness.
Furniture for the Geerardijn House
The architect, Huib Hoste, designed this furniture for a house in Sint-Andries, Bruges. Over time, the furniture was treated in different ways, as is evident from the consecutive layers of paint on each item. The colours of the sideboard, dining room chairs and coat stand are most probably partly original. The other furniture was repainted several times. The analysis of the layers of paint is complex and it is unclear which layers are preparatory layers and which layers were intended as a finishing layer. In the face of so much uncertainty, exposing a specific layer is not sufficient. We have therefore chosen to maintain the current condition of the furniture and only retouch the most distracting lacunas. The desk is an exception to this rule. It was recently added to the collection and was covered with eight layers of paint, the last of which was an overall dark brown. We decided to restore it to a former paint layer, i.e., red and black, which was used for some of the other furniture, as we felt that the brown colour detracted from the aesthetic experience.