Above: Rosewood and aluminum desk designed by Jules Wabbes in the 1960’s with a chair designed by Poul Kjærholm. Photo: midmod-design.com
I would like to take a look at a designer that kind of flies under the radar in Modernist design history and that is Jules Wabbes. Born in Brussel Wabbes had a multitude of jobs before opening an antiques and decorating shop in 1950. Tired of selling other people’s designs Wabbes began designing his own furniture and soon after found himself with several commissions, mainly from businesses looking for functional and sturdy furniture.
While the requirements of these commissions may have seemed a tad dry to another designer, Wabbes took the opportunity to create simple but striking pieces often made from walnut and rosewood with a skeletal frame-work of polished steel and aluminum. With these successful designs Wabbes soon developed a reputation for his use of the finest materials and superb craftsmanship and garnered several awards for his work – notably at the Milan Triennial – and was considered one of the most talented Belgian designers at that time. However, despite these accolades he never reached the same level of recognition of his European counterparts like Jean Prouvé, Dieter Rams, or Deiter Waeckerlin – all of whom worked in a similar style.
Just some of the pieces designed by Jules Wabbes. Click on image for full view.5228 false false false
In recent years, as well as a retrospective of his work in Belgium, Wabbes’ beautifully designed and constructed pieces – particularly his desks and tables – have come into their own and are now much sought after. Wabbes designs, even for the most utilitarian purpose, all carry a timeless elegance that is found in all great Modernist pieces and several of Wabbes’ works have been re-issued in recent years.
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