Jean-François D'or by Laetitia Bica

´Welcome Home’ at ‘Belgitude’ in Palazzo Litta

Versatile design result of ‘Linking Minds’ Jean-François d’Or & Maison Vervloet

March 2017
Ideas often come to him from daily life. When his doorbell was broken, Jean-Francois D'Or experimented with a music box outside his entrance, and when he noticed that it conjured up a smile on every visitor’s face – “Even the police were well-disposed!” – he decided to turn this makeshift object into a real doorbell. “It had a fabulous effect, so I realized I had to do something with it.” The result is a low-tech mood enhancing doorbell, made of brass with a mirror effect (“to arrange your hair before the door opens” but as the image is upside down it’s more of a practical joke to make us smile even more broadly). “After a long day’s work you want to come home and feel good.”
It started with the bell, but Jean-Francois D'Or didn’t stop there. He developed two more objects to give us that welcoming feeling: a subdued jolly door handle and a simple yet assertive umbrella stand. “When I am looking for new projects, like for example the door handle, I usually play with existing objects. Coincidentally, I had a tobacco pipe in my hands and the more I looked at it, the more I was convinced that this could be an excellent door handle. I made a prototype in brass to show at Palazzo Litta. Furthermore, all my life I’ve been in love with hats and umbrellas, so for me a nice umbrella stand is a must. Usually it’s the kind of item people prefer to hide behind the door, whereas I think they deserve recognition, especially in a country with as many rainy days as Belgium. So I have designed a beautiful yet practical umbrella stand in brass that welcomes you home, despite the showers outside.”
For his Belgitude series, Jean-Francois D'Or worked with Maison Vervloet, ironmonger and purveyor of decorative hardware, a family company still going strong after a respectable 112 years. “I’ve been working with them for many years. They excel at craftsmanship and working in brass.” Of course, during such a long history quite a few door handles have been made. “45,000 to be more precise. I learned that when I shared my idea of designing a door handle for ‘Belgitude’: at Maison Vervloet they are obviously not easily impressed. So of course they teased me, and this door handle inspired by a smoking pipe is the result!” The working relationship between Jean-Francois D'Or and Maison Vervloet has always been one of mutual appreciation, which ensures that “everything is possible” approach. Talk about ‘Linking Minds’.
With his ‘Welcome Home’ prototypes, Jean-Francois D'Or brings humor to the noble Palazz Litta. “It’s a nostalgic and amazing place - looking around there you can only feel respect for what people were able to do hundreds of years ago. I very much like the contrast between old and contemporary ‘A Matter of Perception: Linking Minds’ is presenting there, and I am happy to be part of it through the ‘Belgitude’ platform. And it is of course an excellent place to meet people in the same field and link minds. And you know, for me traveling to Milan means enjoying Spring: an excellent excuse for us Belgians to leave our rainy country…”
‘Belgitude’ is an exhibition by Belgium is Design, curated by DAMNº. It's part of ‘A Matter of Perception: Linking Minds’, which is taking place at Palazzo Litta, Corso Magenta 24, Milan, 4-9 April. The exhibition is organised by DAMN° and Mosca Partners. Come and see this 3rd edition – you will be happy you did!
Image by Laetitia Bica.