‘Haentjens’ chair

The avant-garde architect Renaat Braem, mostly known for his social housing projects such as Het Kiel and the De Oudaan police tower in Antwerp, designed very few pieces of furniture and even these were produced in limited editions. A piece of furniture made by him is therefore especially rare and difficult to find. Nevertheless, thanks to the support of the Marie-Jeanne Dauchy Fund, the King Baudouin Foundation has been able to acquire a unique piece, which is now exhibited at the Design Museum Brussels.

A formal, organic language

This chair is part of the Haentjens ensemble, the most important collection of Braem furniture. The organic style shows how the artist developed from modernism and functionalism towards a more biomorphic language and architecture. The relationship between man and nature lies at the heart of Braem’s utopic vision, a vision in which architecture and town planning would liberate man. This awareness of ecology led to an evolution in Braem’s style, towards a more organic architecture from the 1960s onwards.

An ensemble of Haentjens furniture

Braem conceived this furniture ensemble for the showroom of the Haentjens company, an Antwerp construction materials business. The interior furnishing, in an organic style, constitutes the most important ensemble of Braem furniture. In addition to the chairs, the ensemble comprises several pieces of store shelving and a table whose legs are reminiscent of insects’ legs. A dancer on points

The Haentjens chair- acquired by the King Baudouin Foundation at an auction sale at Native, thanks to the Marie-Jeanne Dauchy Fund – has feminine curves and slim legs, which evoke the legs of a ballerina dancing on points. The back of the chair reminds us of her bust.

Utopic and social

Antwerp architect and town planner Renaat Braem (1910-2001) can be considered as one of the leading representatives of post-World War II architecture in Belgium. After studying architecture in Antwerp, Braem went to do an internship with Le Corbusier from 1936-1937, who introduced him to the International Congress of Modern Architecture (CIAM). Braem was a teacher and also a critic and writer, with numerous articles and essays on town planning in Belgium to his credit. In 1968, Braem’s pamphlet Le pays le plus laid du monde (The ugliest country in the world) gave rise to numerous reactions.

Socially engaged, Braem is still known today for his utopic vision. His most famous works include a well-known series of large housing complexes in Antwerp, Brussels, Leuven, Deurne and Boom, whilst the social housing project Het Kiel was one of the most important building projects of the 1950s and a landmark in the history of social housing, internationally recognized as one of the best post-war construction projects.

Material / technique: 
Brass, ash and palm tree
Type of acquisition: 
Acquired by the Marie-Jeanne Dauchy Fund
Year of acquisition: 
Depository institution: 
Design Museum Brussels