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Julien Renault sets up shop Design - 27 May 2015

©VA Jewellery Shop

The designer Julien Renault presents his latest project, the VA jewellery store, set up with his partner, designer Vanessa Aerts. It is in the shop, located on rue du Page in Ixelles, that we met up.

How did this project come about?

Everything went very quickly. Vanessa wanted to change workshop and she fell for this shop. We moved in here in October, but were not ready to stock the jewellery and decided to open a pop-up store for Christmas, which allowed us to test the waters, to try out some products, and gave me time to develop a concept for the jewellery store.

And what was your concept?

We wanted a very simple design, it had to be inventive, clever and fast, everything was done in three weeks. We wanted to change as little of the place as possible, making only discreet adaptations, and showing the workshop behind the store. As for the decor, you will still find the wallpapers and ceramics that date from the pop-up store and bric-a-brac furniture. The wall lamp that illuminates the table and the sunken counter is a unique piece, created for the occasion.

What about the main element, these long metal display cases?

I developed them with an ironworker. The idea was to create a visually light support, although in terms of weight they’re very heavy. The largest weighs about 40 kilos so we had to carefully evaluate the strength of the wall. We attached supports, on which the different modules fit together, but they are easy to disassemble despite their very crude, very solid appearance. Jewellery furniture is always full of hinges, windows, and cushion locks, but we had neither the means nor the desire to do all of that to measure. We simply placed glass panes over them, which may not be the safest principle, but it works perfectly.

This simplicity gives you a great deal of freedom...

Yes, and in fact we write the prices and names of the collections directly on the glass surfaces. We have nine linear metres to display the jewellery collections and the whole system is divided up into interchangeable shelves. We’ve included a very sober lighting - the difficulty was to not create shadows - and nails to hang necklaces; we really wanted to avoid presenting them on plastic busts. And other elements will still be added.

Let's talk about your personal projects...

I still have my plaster lamps, the Rainbow Shades, self-produced and sold in Brussels (at Homepage and The Game in Brussels) and on my website. My big news are the Cap Hooks coat holders, which will be produced by the Hem brand and be available as part of a whole family of products, such as boxes or candle holders. They are made initially from industrial cap tubes for plumbing; I came across the object by chance and was immediately struck by its beauty. Then, about a year ago, I decided to go and buy some and I regretted not having done so sooner. Secondly, and still with Hem, I will be launching a collection of wooden tables that I'm currently designing.

There are worse first-time partners.

That’s true. But it's been six years since I finished my studies, the time was ripe.

You can’t regret having completed your training with designers of the calibre of the Bouroullec brothers, Alain Berteau or Sylvain Willenz?

Not for a second. Working for others taught me a lot - and I have kept up some collaborations, in particular with Objekten, or the office design specialist ABV. I’m helping Alain Berteau overhaul the brand, which will soon market a collection of acoustic panels made by me.

And then?

With VA, we hope to be one of the stores selected for the Design Commerce Awards at the Design September festival. I think we deserve it, especially as these changes cost us only 5,000 euros, including the furniture and electricity. Quite a feat! Although the shop is really getting off the ground, it could give us a nice boost.

Maxime Fischer

Cap Hooks ©Julien Renault

Rainbow shades ©Julien Renault

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