Monday, 13 April 2009

In Conversation with Johan Lenaerts

johan04 Johan Lenaerts - Photograph by Bieke Claessens


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 ( 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 !!


05304-17 Johan Lenaerts - Photograph by Giorgio Possenti


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 


jo01_0019 Johan Lenaerts - Photograph by Bieke Claessens


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 !


jo01_0003 Johan Leanerts - Photograph by Bieke Claessens


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


jo01_0010 Johan Lenaerts - Photograph by Bieke Claessens


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 ...


jo01_0025 Johan Lenaerts - Photograph by Bieke Claessens


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 !


jo01_0021 Johan Lenaerts - Photograph by Bieke Claessens


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 !


jo01_0008 Johan Lenaerts - Photograph by Bieke Claessens


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 !


jo01_0041 Johan Lenaerts - Photograph by Bieke Claessens


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 !


05304-01c Johan Lenaerts - Photograph by Giorgio Possenti


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 ) ( )


jo01_0046 jo01_0049 Johan Lenaerts - Photograph by Bieke Claessens


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 ) !


woonkamervswoonkamervs Johan Lenaerts - © copyrights b.claessens 2009


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 !


Portrait Lenaerts  01 Johan Lenaerts  - Photograph by Jan Verlinde

MEADE DESIGN GROUP - THE BLOG. Copyright 2007-2011


Anna Caroline {Design Studio 210} said...

Hey There! I followed your blog for a while now and must say lately there has been some really interesting posts. Keep it up :)

Brillante Interiors said...

I enjoyed all your interviews but this one to me is the far...
Also Ivan, your Blog's layout is so refined, easy to read, elegant, the balance between images and text is perfect, it is always a joy to have your new posts in my Email.

Musette said...

Great interview - but I would take issue with one thing: Johan says his greatest weakness is he's 'still learning'. I would say that's his greatest strength!

Beautiful rooms. Just beautiful.

thank you

Sarah Klassen said...

I completely agree with Musette! I enjoyed this interview very much. Great post - I am now off to learn more about some of these great pieces...

echito said...

I was thinking the same thing as I read it Musette, I think learning is a great strength. Maybe he's just flawless haha.

Another Great post Ivancito, looking forward to more!

Kelly@Color Sizzle said...

Great interview! These spaces are so chic and elegant. I especially love the charcoal gray walls!

Maria Killam said...

Great interview and beautiful rooms. I am still inspired by an accent wall you did in a loft type space. . . I'm doing the same thing with a client of mine right now!

angelo said...

Stunning work. Great interview.

Biba said...

Amazing pics!

qerat said...

Beautiful beautiful beautiful..........
Great interview Ivan.
Love Johan's work.
I also agree with Albarosa, the layout of your blog is so fine. But I guess it has to be being yours :)

DesignTies said...

I always enjoy reading your interviews -- you ask thoughtful questions and you always introduce us to someone interesting :-)

I love Johan's idea of painting an entire room chocolate brown. Imagine how cool it would be to live inside a giant piece of chocolate!! :-)


Ivory Pearl Interiors said...

Great post. I love all the rooms!

ALL THE BEST said...

Great interview and photos!!