Coffeeklatch

creative chit-chat

Jan & Delphine

Multidisciplinary duo

After 9 years the gallery Hoet Bekaert closes its doors. On the hunt for more rock ‘n roll in their lives, Jan Hoet Junior and Delphine Bekaert put focus on IETS, a new multi-disciplinarian adventure. “Iets (Dutch that stands for ‘something’) is better than nothing. It’s about everything and nothing. Delphine and I, we’re always up to something and that’s the concept behind IETS.” says Jan. The creative duo does productions, from pop-up stores to interior projects, always related to art. We meet up for coffee in Ghent, in their loft which is located in an industrial warehouse, that used to be the first Vespa assembling room, during WO I. It’s a wonderful home, that Delphine refers to as a busy house of people. “People come and go. Our 3 children, the neighbors and artists, I mean everyone just passes by. We never close our front door.”

 

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People come and go. Do you believe in an open door policy?

Delphine: It’s crazy around here with so many people passing by. But it’s also part of who we are. Now that we all have mobile phones, we call each other to set a date. But back in the days you paid a visit to someone’s house to see if they were there. People know I love spontaneous actions, that’s why so many people drop by the house.
Jan: People who don’t have a terrace, nor garden, love to hang out with us. They bring some food and we end up chatting the night away.
Delphine: Since we closed the gallery down, the relationship with the artists has improved substantially. They pass by to have coffee, to have an appetizer and to debate about art.
Jan: The relationship has shifted all right. Artists drop by because of the great atmosphere here. They’re not here to talk about finances anymore.

 

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You invested in Hoet Bekaert for 9 years, to finally close down the place. How did that feel?

Delphine: It was very strange to quit the gallery. We worked so hard to make it happen and some artists have become really good friends. To shut down a business is like ending a relationship. It’s painful. I always liked my business, but at the end I got really tired of it. It’s was all about giving energy and not receiving any. In the end I also think me and Jan don’t possess this commercial feeling. We were only interested in the creative process of art.
Jan: We quit just in time. As a gallerist you have to remind yourself of two things: commerce and networking. The time was right for us to start something new.

 

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How did people react to your decision?

Jan: Reactions were quite divided.
Delphine: In the gallery we used to organize these so called brunches, where a lot of people met. This type of social gathering came to an end, but hey. We still live in the same building, everybody’s still welcome. We might just even have more time than before. Some collectioneurs were panicking. They bought artworks and they want to know what’s next. But there’s continuity. We sought and found galleries for all of our artists. Some clients also reacted in a positive way, because they saw our energy was getting drained.
Jan: We’re talking about the big international collectioneurs here. A gallerist is situated between two big ego’s, the client and the artist. You’re an intermediate and there’s nowhere to get your energy from.
There’s no one to blame, but I’m always searching for satisfaction and I couldn’t find it anymore in my job.
Delphine: The art world, is a tiny world, with every one knowing each other and you always come across the same people. Furthermore the art world has changed a lot over time.
Jan: Yes, there’s little room left for rock ’n roll.
Delphine: Yes, we really missed this rock ’n roll feeling that you get from seeing a great performance or an amazing installation. In the gallery we always gave artists free game, but why did they prefer to play it safe? Is it because of the crisis? Or because there are so many artists around? It that the reason for them to make small paintings that are easy to sell?

 

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Have you re- discovered this rock ‘n roll feeling at Iets?

Delphine: Yes we have. (Laughs.)
Jan: Rock ’n roll stands for cross disciplinary working. Clients and artists like to put you in a certain box, but from the moment on we closed the gallery, people allow us more freedom en this way we can develop fun projects. 
Delphine: To run a gallery or to run a shop. We didn’t see any difference anymore. You are closed between four walls, you sit at your desk, people stare at you, you stare back until someone enters the space. At Iets we work on several projects simultaneously: we are working on a project for BOZAR, the Interior Design Fair in Kortrijk, a project developer and we run the Villa pop-up shop in Knokke. We’ve been running this unique shop for seven years now. Each year we rent en empty villa in Knokke and transform it into a temporary hotspot, that we sublet to a select group of creative entrepreneurs like Wouters & Hendrix, Café Costume, Muller & Van Severen, etc.

 

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Since your homebase is Ghent, why did you decide to open up a shop in the mundane Knokke?

Delphine: Go to Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels. In summertime there’s no one around! So we head to the seaside, where we runned across one collectioneur after the other. We thought: Let’s go and have a look.  We might just find an interesting spot. So we went to a real estate agency and opened up a gallery space after that. Knokke is the place to be in Belgium for rich entrepreneurs to spend the holiday. When they’re on holiday, they are relaxed and they do take the time to sit down for a chat. This way we were able to create a totally different connection with them. Each year we head for Knokke to run the Villa.

 

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To live and collaborate with each other works out wonderful for you guys.

Delphine: We do everything together: sleep, work, think,…Working together is like a game of pingpong. We know what they other is thinking and we try bring it all together.
Jan: We never had strict tasks.
Delphine: No one knows me better than Jan does. Working together feels so natural. The only difference is that we don’t have to go downstairs to head to work anymore. Our office is now located in our loft.
Jan: Our daughter Lucy loves to crawl around, which is lovely. We live and work at home and we love to receive clients in our home. We reckon our loft tickles the imagination.
Delphine: There’s a big difference to have a business meeting in here or in an office space.

 

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What’s the story between the art works we see around here? Are they souvenirs from the gallery?

Jan: Some pieces are bought, others were received as a gift. We call ourselves esthetics and our home is a mix of objects we really like. Design classics or not, when it pleases us, we buy it. I’m not very attached to what you see here.
Delphine: If an outbreak of fire would occur, I would run after my children and that’s about it.
Jan: We feel at home quite easily, where ever we are. At this very moment we’ve got a crush on Puglia, an aria in the South of Italy. We got to know some people there and we would love to spend more time down there.
Delphine: Nature is quite impressive at Puglia.
Jan: It also comes to our surprise that we’re able to do a lot of work when we’re there. So to spend 1/3rd of the time there,  is my new goal.

 

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About Coffeeklatch

Coffeeklatch stands for ‘Slow journalism using a fast medium.’ Magali Elali and Bart Kiggen created the blog as a creative chitchat featuring creative entrepreneurs in their homes over coffee, including interesting people telling intriguing stories. It celebrates storytelling and creativity in all its forms, from fashion design to architecture. Read More

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