Jules Wabbes, Drugstore Louise in Brussels, 1963. Photo: Henri Kessels.
Jules Wabbes, Bench relax. Bench in mansonia plywood covered with vinyl, made for the classroom of the Belgian section at the XIIth Triennale di Milano in 1960.
Jules Wabbes, Desk Foncolin presented in 1960 at the Triennale di Milano. Solid strips of wood, metal.
Jules Wabbes presents a prototype of a lamp in stainless steel at the XIth Triennale di Milano in 1957.
Rue Ravenstein 23
+ 02 507 82 00
October 17, 2012-January 13, 2013
Jules Wabbes (1919-1974) was a Belgian interior architect. Born in Brussels, He began his career as an actor and after several other jobs eventually opened an antiques and decoration shop in Brussels. He then started to create his own furniture and was chosen by several Belgian administrations to design and create functional furniture.
Wabbes is one of the leading Belgian furniture designers of the postwar period. He is known above all for his office furniture, with which he fitted out the offices of Glaverbel, Royale Belge, and Foncolin, but remains largely unknown to the general public.
This exhibition presents a complete overview of his work as a furniture designer, from his earliest models, such as the tabouret designed for Anna David-Marber, to the furniture he created for student accommodation in Louvain-la-Neuve. There is a particular focus on the Foncolin building, in which his inventiveness came fully into its own, and on his participation in the Milan Triennales of 1957 and 1960. In addition to original drawings and photographs, the exhibition includes unique pieces of furniture, including a number of prototypes that are going on public view for the first time.
In cooperation with Belgium's famous architect André Jacqmain, Wabbes designed the interior furniture of the Foncolin (Fonds colonial des Invalidités) and the Glaverbel buildings in Brussels. Other works included the fittings of the Science Library for the Université catholique de Louvain, the fittings of the Sabena airplanes and the fittings of the United States embassies in London, Brussels, Dakar and Rabat.
Wabbes was awarded several prizes, notably at the Milan triennal fair and he was considered at that time as one of the most talented Belgian interior architects.
All his works was based on the expression of pure quality with excellent material (plain wood, metal). He is especially famous for his office desks, tables and casts.
Wabbes stood for Belgian design in the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1950s he designed the interiors for Sabena airline's DC 6C and DC 7B aircraft. There followed a series of interior design layouts, including the International Science Hall at the Brussels Universal Exhibition, the Belgian royal couple's apartment on board the Godetia and the offices of the banks Crédit Communal and Générale de Banque. A lover of fine materials, he also designed his own ranges of furniture and established Le Mobilier Universel, a production and distribution company. His tables, desks and bookcases, made from glued blocks of end-grain exotic woods, or bois de bout, very quickly became his trademark. His lighting and accessories also demonstrated his mastery of metal working. These were the basis for the international reputation enjoyed by his designs, designs of simple form and timeless elegance.
Jules Wabbes, Mobile bloc, plywood, steel frame. Dimensions: 68 x 47 x 58 cm. Photo: Photocom sprl. Brussels, 1971.
Jules Wabbes, Wall lamp large model, brass, 30 x 35 x 19 cm. Photo: Photocom Sprl. Brussels, 1968.
Architect André Jacqmain (left) and Jules Wabbes. Element of the facade of the Foncolin building in construction, around 1956.