When I first saw Johan Lenaerts’ 14 page spread in Interiors Magazine I was amazed at the space he had created. It is crisp and tasteful, with an eclectic mix of styles and art, a beautiful yet masculine feel and surprising selections that kept the space feeling interesting. Coming from 3 previous generations of furniture and interior design (hence the G4 moniker), naturally Johan has a beautiful eye for furniture and luxurious designs. I had to learn more about Johan and his company, G4AGENCY and went straight to his website (http://g4.be/) to request an interview.
Thankfully, Johan accepted and I was thrilled to get more insight about his personal style and his company, which carries a wide range of beautiful furnishings from designers such as Emma Torfs, Kate Hume, Vladimir Kagan and many others.
Iván Meade – What was your first experience with design?
Johan Lenaerts – For my 7th birthday - I received a Verner Panton chair for my desk ! So there you are - still at elementary school - and already that !!
Iván Meade – Who or what has influenced your style?
Johan Lenaerts – I think all the 1970-ies - my father had a design shop at that time, selling already early Cassina and B&B italia ( at that time together : B&C italia : Busnelli and Cassina ) - the ambience of the '70-ies, the Modernistic architecture of the houses and interiors - they left their marks ! It was the time of textures, colours and patterns, new materials
Iván Meade – What designers of past and present do you admire most?
Johan Lenaerts – Designers of the past : Frank Lloyd Wright, Adolf Loos for their holistic approach to architecture and space; later : Eero Saarinen and Richard Neutra : for me : the fathers of Modernism; Vladimir Kagan : still alive and kicking ! my favourite for furniture design of the second part of the 20°th Century Designers of the present : Ron Arad, Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid : again : for their holistic approach in all the things they design and create ! And please come back in 10 years to ask this same question : than we can see who is leaving marks to remember for the future !
Iván Meade – How would you describe your style?
Johan Lenaerts – Eclectic & holistic ! Eclectic : since I like to mix textures, colours, materials / Holistic : in planning rooms and spaces - I try hard to take in consideration, all surrounding circumstances and to involve them into my designing and creating-process - in order to obtain a maximum of solutions out of a certain situation
Iván Meade – What do you consider to be your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?
Johan Lenaerts – Greatest strength : feeling for colour and materials / Greatest weakness : I'm still learning, every day ...
Iván Meade – What do you look for in a furniture piece?
Johan Lenaerts – First of all I try to find out about the background of the designer - and see how this influenced him/her in it's designing of this furniture piece / than I look how they used the materials, textures, colours !
Iván Meade – What is your favourite furniture piece?
Johan Lenaerts – On this very moment : the SERPENTINE sofa - designed by VLADIMIR KAGAN - still my absolute favourite !
Iván Meade – Your Antwerp residence project is simply stunning. The space is wonderfully eclectic but remains very well put-together, how do you achieve this successfully?
Johan Lenaerts – The building has a nice - modernistic concrete structure from 1969 - the scheme is very straight up - so let's say - the setting is peaceful, quite but strong - but to achieve this - we had to break out a lot of smaller rooms / afterwords you have a the space to play with beautiful stuff !
Iván Meade – Are there any design rules that you think were meant to be broken?
Johan Lenaerts – Yes - painting all dark chocolate brown - including the ceiling ! But the effect is stunning ! All attention goes no to the windows and the daylight !
Iván Meade – What books are currently on your bedside or coffee table?
Johan Lenaerts – I'm not a big reader - I'm a very visual type of person - so : Tom of Finland on the bedside table ( Joke ) / on the coffee table : a book on one of my favourite Belgian artists : Jan De Cock ( in Tate Modern / London - 2005 ) ( www.jandecock.net )
Iván Meade – What are you excited about right now in the world of design?
Johan Lenaerts – I think - in this period of world-wide crisis - that design ( good and well-thought design of course ! ) is one of the exits - out of the crisis ! With new designs / new ideas - we can create new opportunities ! I'm thinking especially of green-design ( environment-friendly, green etc ) !
Iván Meade – What is your next design venture?
Johan Lenaerts – I'm designing my new house and showroom in the centre of Antwerp -
Johan Lenaerts - © copyright b.claessens 2009
Iván Meade – Lastly, you have already created a stunning body of work with many mediums and styles. What would you like your legacy to be?
Johan Lenaerts – My happy clients !