BRUSSELS.- Galerie Rodolphe Janssen
presents an exhibition of recent furniture pieces by the Brussels-based Ateliers J&J.
Born out of necessity and built on a curious mix of intuition and utility, Ateliers J&J takes its name from its two founders, Jean Angelats and Jonathan Renou, self-taught carpenters and metal-workers based in Brussels. While neither come from a design background, a shared interest in artisanal craftsmanship spurred Angelats and Renous pursuit of crafting minimalist chairs, shelving systems, and tables for everyday, practical use.
Gestures of economy are central to Ateliers J&Js furniture. Their furniture eschews the beckoning finger of technology in favour of an altogether more human conception, fabrication, and use. The hapticality of their objects is at first informed by Ateliers J&Js materials, all hand-sourced in Belgium. Bent tubular steel and wood are Ateliers J&Js materials of choice, materials that suggest directness - a tactile and transparent design approach unencumbered by the oft-seen plastic re-hashing of modernist furniture design. In their wall-racking system, for example, a painted steel ladder attached directly to the wall functions both as the supporting structure and central design component of their system. Solid ash shelves, secured with folded steel sheets, hook to the wall component and can be moved or removed as desired.
Meanwhile, Ateliers J&Js playfulness can be detected in their use of colour. Subtle subversions of modernist primary colours become the skeletal steel lines of the furniture, acting as negative space to natural wood surfaces. It is perhaps here that the unusual details of Ateliers J&Js metal work - the novel bending of chair legs or minimalist re-thinking of a desks base - emerge. Angles are toyed with as perspective and spatial understanding is skewed.
Although a sense of mid-century modernism is detectable in their pieces - with influences of Bauhaus and postwar designers wading nearby - Ateliers J&J prefer to rely on a combination of practicality and innate design sense in the conception of their work, garnered more from personal experience and an intimacy with their craft rather than books on design history. Their furniture pieces are, ultimately, conceived out of practicality, stability, and an honest understanding of their materials - not out of a desire for unattainable luxury or obscurity.
Founded in 2011, Ateliers J&J is made up of two self-taught craftsmen, Jean Angelats (born 1984 in Perpignan, France) and Jonathan Renou (born 1985 in Auxerre, France). Their limited edition furniture pieces are produced and sourced by hand in Belgium, with the simple goal of being pleasing to the eye, durable, and affordable.