Author furniture in Spain is on the rise, although it is clear that we must fight every day to convince the customer of its added value as an “exclusive piece” or as “limited series furniture”.
The author’s furniture is a creation with soul and heart that requires dedication, patience and a lot of care because it tries to give a very personal touch to the piece. It is a close relationship between the author and the work. Between “the hand and the mind” to create a great piece of furniture that will last over time.
Being a process of creation and elaboration much longer than usual, it will therefore be at a higher price than what we are used to. Although it will also give us a much higher pleasure than a piece of furniture without soul and heart. The author’s furniture is a piece of furniture with noble materials and thoroughly studied techniques.
I encourage the potential buyer to bet on new furniture concepts, new construction values and as always, thinking that Author’s Furniture is a good investment. You will enjoy it for a lifetime and will also increase in value over time.
Cabinetmaker and Designer Furniture Author. Jean Baptiste Van den Heede
Many stores and furniture manufacturers boast of making and selling ecological and natural furniture. But far from reality, they only take advantage of the current need to reduce the “ecological footprint” and sell their furniture even better. Which are actually produced as usual except they have a rustic look …
Manufacturing ecological and natural furniture means reducing the impact on nature by designing and manufacturing furniture with noble materials. Without industrial transformation of its own raw material and that are durable. Let them be trees that have lived their entire useful life and that have been cut down to give them a new life in the manufacture of furniture. A tree that has grown healthy in a forest without having undergone genetic manipulation or crosses of species to “fatten” them as soon as possible like pigs …
Healthy wood, of “natural” growth, endures much longer over time and also has a much more attractive and beautiful grain at the same time.
In my workshop we work as much as possible with native or national woods. Simply because there are very good woods and you don’t have to go 1000 kilometers to find some exotic wood. We work the wood practically all by hand although we do not rule out at specific moments some machine preparation … Working by hand gives a lot of physical and moral pleasure, you forget about noise, danger, energy consumption, having a high budget for a large workshop and heavy machinery.
Manufacturing ecological and natural furniture in Spain is possible and feasible and it does not have to be more expensive. Perhaps it is one of the sectors of the industry where you can work with sustainable forests and controlled logging.
A furniture made by hand with solid wood is almost an ecological furniture … Therefore betting on solid wood is essential because nothing is wasted from the tree and it is very durable. It is a natural cycle. Take care of the forest for many years and then cut down the tree, with the branches you can make firewood, from the trunk we take the boards for the furniture, the shavings that are removed by brushing serves as fuel, compost … then we make a piece of furniture that will last hundreds years and become an antique. With the passage of time, the restorer will always have work and in the worst of cases, if the woodworm is done with the wood, then the cycle will begin again. Compost from the soil, tree growth, etc …
I bet on ecological and natural furniture that is made of pine or oak because I think it is the future.
Spanish design furniture has had its glory, but I think it is making a comeback step by step by the hand of creators, artists, architects and of course furniture designers.
In my case, I came from Belgium to Barcelona in 1992 in full glory of design in Spain and even more so in Catalonia. With a good background in cabinetmaking, design and art, I began step by step to make my own line of furniture. Exhibitions, competitions, prototypes for companies, designers and architects. I think my style is a mixture of my Nordic culture and the good Spanish life with a pinch of humor and art.
I am not Spanish nor do I intend to be, but I feel to be part of this world of designers who help enrich the “Furniture Culture”.
Now perhaps we are talking more about “signature furniture” although the truth is that between design and signature furniture there is only one step. It is even admitted that they mix to form ONE.
How to differentiate between a signature furniture and a design furniture?
As I said before, they often form a mixture of one and the other, although you can also see how a modern design furniture has nothing to do with a designer furniture. Why? By design we often think of furniture with refined, straight lines, a “Nordic” type as they say, but no, there are also “modern” furniture with curved lines.
Good design furniture requires many studies both at the formal, aesthetic and ergonomic level. What at first was called “THE FORM AND THE FUNCTION” of object. If, in addition, the creator-designer manages to give this special and personal touch to his piece, he may get an “author’s furniture”, that is, a personalized piece of furniture with its own soul, a piece of furniture that lasts over time.
Nowadays it is fashionable to speak of “signature furniture” and “sells well” so everyone does the same and they talk about the same thing. From large surfaces such as IKEA, Amazon, Maison du Monde etc. and also the small craftsman, who barely knows how to cut a piece of wood, to great craftsmen, designers, architects etc. It is not bad, but it confuses the consumer and in the end loses its value as an authentic, personal piece and of great value in all its senses. So, I think it is time to invent a new term to speak of “author’s furniture”. Let’s see who comes to mind first….
My creations are the fruit of more than 30 years drawing, experimenting, creating. Going from the sketch to the model, then to the prototype and finally to a real scale with different woods and finishes. Sometimes inspiration arises in a few minutes and sometimes in a few years … Due to my academic studies, I am conditioned but at the same time the “technical baggage” helps me to come to fruition.
The different carpentry, cabinetmaking, antique restorer, carving, upholstery, furniture design studies and culminating in sculpture in Fine Arts. All this “path” helps me in my achievements.
Jean Baptiste Van den Heede. Cabinetmaker-Designer-Artist.
In my workshop we design and manufacture custom rustic tables for each audience. The important thing is to take care of every detail from the design to the transport to your home. I am personally in charge of receiving the client, talking about their idea, what they are looking for, getting it right so that there is great communication in the development process. Each piece of furniture is unique due to its characteristics, such as a walnut plank, with its grain, its irregularities, its charm.
We manufacture custom rustic tables with noble woods such as olive, oak, walnut … Furniture pampered one by to last hundreds of years and for the enjoyment of the whole family.
Where to find rustic furniture in Spain?
There is good rustic furniture made by artists, artisans, designers, and even architects. They are furniture pampered one by one with good materials, good woods that are sought each one of them throughout the territory and even outside of Spain. It requires a lot of research work as it is not easy to find quality rustic woods that are dry and appropriate for the end use. Often we have to prepare the wooden planks ourselves, look for the particular one that has a tree to cut down and thus, do the first step: get wood. Then, the log must be taken to a sawmill to cut the log into planks, boards, etc. and let the wood dry for several years. This is how we are going to get our “solid wood warehouse” to be able to work.
Another important step will be to attract customers interested in custom rustic furniture. It is a slow task that requires a lot of work. Website, advertising, exhibitions, etc. It is clear that the client for this kind of furniture will always be looking for a “custom-made furniture”. Whether it be for an olive bathroom worktop, an oak kitchen worktop, a walnut television table, a chestnut living room table … and we have to have wood in order to propose something to you. Next, we have to talk about “rustic furniture design”. Here, we are often faced between what can be found in large stores and what we can offer in return. It is not an easy task again because, we are going to be more expensive, of course …
We are talking about a unique piece of furniture, made to measure, with a personalized design, an exclusive wood…. And even so, sometimes we get almost the same price as a store.
Our strong point as designers-artisans is the personalized treatment that can be given to each piece of furniture that leaves the workshop. As some client said talking about custom rustic tables: “it’s like a childbirth” there is a whole process to follow, step by step until the result is the furniture made with love and affection to enjoy it for a lifetime …
What are the best woods to make furniture?
It is the typical question…. Well, the truth is that there are no bad woods; there are very beautiful woods but very difficult to work or because they have movements and can twist or crack. There are very good hardwoods for a table and very bad for a furniture door …
So what wood is good for a table, for example?
You could use practically any known wood such as oak, walnut, cherry, pine, fir, chestnut, elm etc. As I always say, it depends on the budget of each one … There are 200 year old tables made of pine or Spanish walnut … It is clear that there are very long lived woods such as oak for example. There is a reason why Versailles and the cathedrals have almost been always made of oak in France. Here, in Spain, depending on the region, are of pine, chestnut or oak.
So if you want a 500 year old table, go for oak … it ages very well, works very well, carves wonderfully and doesn’t even need a special finish. Holds perfectly only with oil if we want a more polished touch. But if you want a piece of furniture with a warmer air, I would opt for a walnut, elm or cherry table. If they are native woods, better because they are usually more beautiful with a spectacular grain.
“Humanity cannot move forward without recovering the work of solid wood again. The use of chipboard, particle board and other wood products condemn forests and furniture to an authentic ecological, cultural and historical disaster.”
The beauty of natural wood is permanent and improves over time, just like a good wine. It gives heat to the home, it can be restored and preserved for centuries.
“Good woodwork will make tomorrow’s antiques possible; which will allow us to continue enjoying them for centuries and will perpetuate the art of the restorative-conservative”.
“The use of wood is healthy for the present and future. Working solid wood requires reforestation and controlled forests, which provides us with oxygen, rainfall, fertility, prevents erosion and does not contaminate”.
Unlike the industrial furniture of agglomerates and derivatives, the solid furniture can be disassembled and reassembled dozens of times without suffering irreversible damage. Solid wood is NOT more expensive than laminated furniture because it resists the passage of time. For example, a dining table will last several generations.
The furniture does not require that it be made of “noble” wood as it is understood. A good pine table will last perfectly 200 years. If we want to pay more, then ask for oak or walnut… it’s a matter of luxury…
The carpenter’s job is also at stake. It’s not just a matter of living in the present, let’s think about the future, and let’s be even a little selfish… “ours”. Ours as Human Being living on this wonderful Earth.
Jean Baptiste Van den Heede
Cabinet maker – Designer and Artist
“Solid wood is the past and future of carpentry, as well as woodworking. Controlled forests and correct environmental management will allow us a guaranteed permanence on Planet Earth”.
Jean-Baptiste Van den Heede defines himself as a cabinetmaker-designer and an artist of academic training and family tradition. He has achieved unique designs of national and international prestige and has several awards in avant-garde furniture.
Born in Argentina in 1966, from an Argentine mother and a Belgian father. At 5 years of age he and his family moved to Belgium.
To train as a wood professional, he first studied 4 years of carpentry. Then he continued training in cabinetmaking and carving for 5 more years. Always in search of contributing something more to his trade, he studied furniture and antique design, culminating this with the study of Sculpture at the Royal Academies of Fine Arts in Liège (Belgium) and graduating with honors.
Work the stone, the wood and experience the forge. From the beginning it is directed towards a search for signs, abstract writings and unrealistic figures in analogy with other «primitive» cultures.
He taught drawing and sculpture in Brussels at the private school «la main et l´ esprit» As well as summer courses in Liege (Belgium) «les ateliers d´art contemporain».
In 1995 he went to Barcelona where he taught and investigated the reliefs of different supports such as trees, floors, and especially sewer covers.
He searched again analogies between current art and prehistoric, African art, etc.
Participated in several exhibitions both at the artistic level and avant-garde design.
In 2002, he moved down to Albacete and then to a town in the province where he still works.
It is defined as «a search engine without haste or guidelines.» He says: «I only work when I feel a strong and positive inspiration invade me, an energy that I capture from matter, from the air and that I return doing the work until I feel a connection with it.»
Private workshop of contemporary art in Letur (Albacete) until 2009.
He currently works in his workshop-studio in the Sierra de Madrid (Guadalix de la Sierra) following his career as a cabinetmaker-designer and artist while teaching his trade to students interested in wood.
The cabinetmakers brothers Benoit and Jean-Baptiste chatting under an ancient oak.
«The dialogue between man and wood will give harmony so that divine inspiration flows».
Selection and exhibition in the «International COCOON Exhibition». Brussels, 1991.
Selection and exhibition at the bank “GENERALE DE BANQUE» Lieja, 1992.
Competition and first prize of the Province of Liège, 1992 “JEUNES CREATEURS DE LA PROVINCE DE LIEGE”, “TECHNO-ARTS FESTIVAL”.
Exhibition in «LA MAISON DE LA CULTURE DE MARCHE-EN-FAMENNE», 1992.
Selection and contest GODECHARLE, Brussels, 1993.
Individual exhibition in the «REAL ACADEMIA DE BELLAS ARTES«. Liège, 1995.
International collective exhibition for the «PRIMAVERA DEL DISEÑO» «Engine of change». April 1997. ZERO Gallery (Barcelona).
Prototyping of VICTORIO Y LUCCHINO (fashion designers – Spain) and MICHAEL GRAVES (Architect and furniture designer, USA) for the Valencia International Fair (FIM), ANIEME and ICEX 1997. Commissioners: Juli Capella and Quim Larrea.
Realization of 2 prototypes for the designerMARTIN RUIZ DE AZUA for the contest of Casa Mediterráneo (Barcelona) EXPO HOGAR; The 2 models were selected.
He presents his creations at the VI PRIMAVERA DEL DISEÑO in Barcelona 2001.
WINNER OF THE 3rd PRIZE of the Concurso Regional de Diseño Aplicado a la Artesanía de Castilla La Mancha 2006.
Collective exhibition «+ AGUA TUNING BOTIJO» in the Museo Municipal de Albacete 2007 with the «COLECTIVO REACTIVO».
Collective exhibition «AGUA TUNING BOTIJO» Daimiel Water Center, 2008.
Great exhibition » ESCULTURAS Y DIBUJOS » Letur 2007.
Personal exhibition «ESCULTURAS Y DIBUJOS» Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla-La-Mancha», 2008.
Honorable mention in the International Sculpture Contest «RUTA CINEMATOGRÁFICA PEDRO ALMODÓVAR» 2008 for a sculpture in Granátula de Calatrava.
Collective exhibition at the Junta de Comunidades de Albacete, 2008.
Collective exhibition in Abelardo Sánchez de Albacete Park, 2008.
Great retrospective and personal exhibition at the Municipal Museum of Albacete, January 2009.
MEMBER OF ALBACETE «REACTIVE COLLECTIVE» ARTISTIC GROUP.
Collective exhibition at the Casa de la Cultura de Pinto (Madrid) 2015.
The dream of many artists, furniture designer and creators is to get to produce their own creations. Getting to this point is usually a very long and drawn out process and often goes nowhere. Almost always everything starts in your head and then the drawings follow and, from time to time, you get to go to the technical level. If we get to this point, we will have already made a big step…
And now what?
Small scale model, prototype… looking for a firm? Yes, the dream in general for any furniture designer, is to find a firm interested in our product. The bad thing is that it is usually a dream that is rarely fulfilled, but that’s the way dreams are…
What if I try to auto produce my designs?
It is the challenge of Jean Baptiste Van den Heede who defines himself as a productdesigner.
His roots and his vocation have come together to give him total versatility, because in addition to designing he self-produces his own furniture designs and confesses that he enjoys this most when he works on the study and realization of the prototype, either for one of his pieces or for another designer, architect or individual.
«I encourage the creator, furniture designer to AUTO PRODUCE their designs because it can be a great idea and pays off in the long run. Is a long process that you can do yourself or in collaboration with different workshops. It requires a lot of patience, but you will learn a lot because we will go through each point until we get to the completion of the piece. It is a training in a field that can be disheartening, but also gives us much satisfaction, and it will almost certainly lead to the final manufacture of a single or serial piece. What is also interesting is that, if we manage to present a finished product, it will be easier to attract the attention of a design firm.»