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Interview Atelier 4/5

Interview Atelier 4/5

We are talking about the workshop a couple of steps away from Wiels in Brussels. The two charming architects, Florent et Jean-Francois, are the founders of this diamond in the ruff, the workshop 4/5. If you want to create a unique interior design, love the idea of decorating with cool, vintage pieces (maybe something like a vinyl stool?!) and do not want to have to sell a kidney in order to redecorate your space, you are in the right place!

“For us, vintage furniture consists of the pieces found from the ‘50’s to the ‘80’s. We have different criteria for distinguishing them: material, color and shape.” This is how Florent and Jean-Francois view vintage. Try to remember the family friendly kitchen: armoires with red doors, a round, formica table! You hated it at the time, your kids think it looks silly and you ended up redoing it. Today, this kitchen is the perfect example of vintage.  But vintage is not always the decadent, clichéd look; it also consists of more discrete, interesting items that the Atelier 4/5 is bringing back to style.

When we asked about the origin of their passion for vintage, the duo spoke with one voice: “We studied architecture together and we have always loved bargain-hunting. When we started working, we didn’t want to find ourselves in front of a screen everyday and most importantly, we wanted to work on our own projects.” Since 2012, their philosophy has become a reality. When deciding on a name, these longtime friends didn’t waste time: they chose “Quatre Cinquième” (“Four Fifths”), according to their previous work schedules (four out of five days).

Brussels, a vintage city

Retro style is becoming more and more popular in Brussels. Has this city become the capital of vintage? “We are noticing the genre coming back. But like all styles, this fad will die out one day. We think that people are tired of the same coffee table from that Swedish superstore. They want furniture with more charm, things they can get from a thrift store. An ideal way to personalize your interior.” However, these two still think that vintage style has a long life ahead: “It’s an aesthetic that has a price but works well with contemporary decoration and architecture. Today uncluttered interiors allow vintage furniture to really stand out. In contrast, in the 60’s, living spaces were very busy.”

If you are feeling handy, you will be happy to know that it is possible to find free material for carpentry in Brussels! “We find our materials most often in flea markets on the street. On second hand sites, constructions sites and especially at carpenters you’ll find scraps of wood.  L'ASBL Rotor just published a listing containing all the places where we can buy reusable material within a 100km radius of Brussels. This is a great initiative that could be very useful for us.”

Achievements and projects

Repudiated from all over, these young entrepreneurs have already had the occasion to make custom furniture for the city of Brussels and tables for the brand of rum, Havana Club.

All of the furniture signed by 4/5 are fabulous original pieces, but we still wanted to know which one was their favorite! “We especially love the ‘Six Doors’ which is a piece with 6 doors and comes with 6 stools made with formica. The piece that people seem to like the most are the vinyl stools, the ‘33 Stools,' and the separate armoire made from an old screen, ‘Shelves Vs Screen.' ”

Let’s put a nice end to this vintage, workshop day! “In the morning we are going bargain shopping at the place du Jeu de Balle and then to have lunch at Kika. We will continue downtown as we go to see Lucien Cravate, Brocéliande, and we will end sifting through vinyls and old records.”

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