06.03.2015 - Dries Tack

When he bought a hardware store in 1905, Joseph Vervloet could hardly have imagined that, four generations later, the Maison Vervloet would be hailed as a world-wide reference in decorative hardware. After "catching the bug" at a young age, Isabelle Hamburger talks to us about the future of this fine example of Belgian expertise.

How would you describe Vervloet to someone who has never heard of it?

IH: It's a family business founded by my great-grandfather, specialising in handcrafted accessories for doors and windows. We are now at the head of the world's largest collection of door handles, with a base of 45,000 models, and I stress the word "base", as all parts can be modified in terms of the raw material used and the finishing applied. And then you have our complete customisation offering. We can start with a sketch or from scratch, customise a building by delivering switch plates and door hinge bolts marked with the initials of their owner. There is no end to the possible level of detail; when working on the interior design of a yacht or a private Boeing, our only limit is the customer's wallet.

And you also work with designers.

Yes, that's the other part of our production, a creative side that has been pivotal to our evolution. The basic collection is constantly enlarged and we bring out one to two collections every year, in collaboration with designers such as Jean-François D'Or, Big-Game, Quentin de Coster or soon Nedda El-Asmar for the next show in Milan. .. Today it is the designers who come to us

Do you feel ready to continue your international development?

Of course, and we know that we can do much more, mainly in the Middle East or Asia. At Maison & Objet Singapore last year, the people who came to us were not individuals but professionals with large projects.

Projects like the ones you are already involved with closer to home, for the new Peninsula Hotel in Paris for example?

It’s a fantastic place, for which we have delivered more than 500 pieces. We are very proud that a contract of this scale was entrusted to us, "little Belgians". In Europe too, we are moving more and more towards this type of project: customers are fewer, but volumes much higher. In this environment, one order leads to another. Most of the time, we just need to put the handle into the customer's hand and we get the go-ahead. It’s massive, it’s cast, you feel the weight and the work that has gone into it ... The copies don’t bear comparison.

Isn’t it difficult to fulfil such orders while keeping to your traditional working method?

Everything is handmade, it's true. But I'd rather have too many orders than not enough orders. When buying an Aston Martin, it is not delivered to you within two months; our sixteen-week delivery time is very reasonable.

Why will 2015 be such a special year for Vervloet?

For the 110 years, I didn’t want to organise a big party – we celebrated in style for the centenary, with our competition chaired by Andrée Putman. For 2015, we have entrusted our new image to the studio Base Design, which has worked for Dandoy, Delvaux, LVMH or MoMA. We will be completely overhauling our marketing policy, the whole presentation, from the logo to the website, and developing e-commerce, and a Home collection including, for example, the tray made with Jean-François D'Or or an ashtray signed Jules Wabbes ... Not to mention our new catalogue.

A catalogue of 45,000 references?

You just cannot imagine the work that went into it. It’s been a one-year-long headache.

Do you feel that this rebranding was necessary?

We are better known abroad than in Belgium, where our image is a bit dated despite the fact that we create a lot of contemporary pieces. We had to do something about it. We want to contextualize the product, highlight its history. But I definitely want to keep the name "Maison Vervloet 1905".

Maxime Fischer for Belgian Boutique

Pictures by

© Patrick Mac Kay (black and white)

© Vervloet (in colour)

Belgian Boutique partners with WBDM - Wallonie Bruxelles Design Mode - to promote creativity and Belgian talents around the world. To learn more about WBDM go to www.wbdm.be


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