Coffeeklatch

creative chit-chat

Frederic Hooft

Interior & furniture

If a house is a reflection of its inhabitants personalities, the eclectic style of Frederic Hooft and Eva Goethals is very interesting. The duo mixes antique and vintage design with modern details. "What you see here is not perfect. I call it a simple interior, because it's basic and I often leave elements to chance." We are quite familiar with the work of interior designer and vintage retailer Frederic Hooft. Pictures of his former loft have been hanging on our inspiration wall for a while. The loft has been exchanged for an impressive 16th century house. "Feel free to walk around and photograph what you want." With their home as an ideal showcase, Frederic and Eva are used to reporters and photographers.

  

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You moved from a cool loft to an impressive old house. How on earth did you discover this gem?

Frederic: When a friend told me this house was for sale, we immediately went for a look. After 10 minutes we bought it. Eva and I were on the hunt for a home in the old city centre of Ghent, where we could integrate our workspaces. I work on the first floor and Eva's studio is downstairs.

Eva: I am a freelance graphic designer and work from home. My studio is located in the backyard house and is accessible via the courtyard. In the summer it is all green and sunny. I really love it here.

 

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I suppose it is not obvious to transform an old house to comply it with your wishes. Did you have to do heavy renovations?

Frederic: The front building dates from 1600, the back from 1800. You get the impression that the house was barely renovated and that is exactly the look we were going for. But actually, we put a lot of work into it. Walls were replastered, but not painted. Old floors and ceilings were preserved, small rooms were transformed into large rooms. Electricity, bathroom and kitchen were completely stripped and replaced. There was no real need for renovation, but it's my job as an interior designer to think differently about space and to ensure that all elements work together nicely. 

 

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No tabula rasa, but respect for authenticity. Is this a vision that you like to share with your clients?  

Frederic: You must accept a house as it is, otherwise you shouldn't buy it. This house can get chilly and drafty and there are steep stairs everywhere. It is not a typical home, but that is not what I wanted. 

Eva: Last week we had a visit from conservation of monuments. She pointed to the old ceiling and asked us how we did it. Funny, because we did absolutely nothing about it, we left it untouched. The same goes for the windows. They are beautiful, but only single glass and therefore the space is difficult to heat in winter.

Frederic: Different passages make this house very special. You can walk from top to bottom, from inside to outside and from front to back via the wooden footbridge, built by the previous owner. We can hear the wind blowing, it is part of the house. My loft in Ghent was totally different in style. It was very clean and minimal, but after a while I just wanted something else. It wouldn't be a surprise if I leave this house in a couple of years and exchange it for a hut, an apartment, or even a barn. But it would need a fireplace. A house without a fireplace, is a house without a soul. I always put the fire on in winter and summer, every day of the week. I can't live without.

 

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Another remarkable trait is your passion for design. Would you call yourself an interior designer or design collector?

Frederic:

Foremost I am an interior designer with a passion for design furniture. I call myself an interior designer, although I quit my studies to go to New York to work there. At the age of 21 I assumed I knew it all. At that age you don't know what you want, but I do know now! (laughs) Maybe if I had more patience, I would have been an architect. Because just like him I work with floorplans, although I have the tendency to make corrections until the very last minute.

Eva: But that characterizes you. You always change plans.

Frederic: On a floorplan, everything can seem perfect, but during the renovation process, elements can change. You can't cling to hard to a particular idea. For instance, the way light falls can change your design thoroughly. Sometimes I can get away with this, other times not.(laughs)

 

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What type of clients do you have with your interior projects? 

Frederic: It is a mix of young and old but I must admit, it is difficult to reach people from my age. They are interested, but lack the budget. I combine both cheap and expensive materials, but working with small workshops and made to measure, raises the budget.

 

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What about your fascination for furniture? We are surrounded by masterpieces.

Frederic: What you see here is Japanese, French, pieces from the 40’s, Le Corbusier, Willie Van der Meeren, Maarten Van Severen, Richard Riemerschmid, Marcel Baugniet and Jean Prouvé. It is a mix of old and new, known and unknown. Some pieces are from the flea market, others from auctions. Buying furniture is something I do together with Stefan Boxy, who introduced me to designers I never heard of. A decade ago we shared a common interest for a piece of Lucien Engels. A while later we saw another masterpiece and so we began to invest in furniture together. Me and Stefan have gathered a nice collection of furniture, ran a shop in Knokke and now opened up N°33, a design gallery and furniture atelier. While I'm still busy with my interior projects, Stefan is working on his culinary endeavors as a cook.

 

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What are you criteria when buying furniture?

Frederic: We only buy pieces that we like to see in our homes and pieces that are resellable. The items you see here, I would only sell as a last resort. Sometimes I question what I do: buying, selling, gathering and collecting. I am a materialist, because I am attached to beautiful, valuable things. But wouldn’t I be better off without? Do I really need it? 

Eva: But Frederic is so happy after a new purchase. He sits down, lights one cigarette after the other and looks at his new purchase for hours. At that moment, I think he is intensely happy and there is nothing wrong with that.

Frederic: I often hear myself say: this piece is beautiful or it looks good here. I see something, I pay for it and I try to let it go by telling myself I earned it through hard work. But honestly, I can't keep on collecting. One day I would like to sell everything and start from scratch.

Eva: Or start something new. He's starting a fine catering service with Boxy in Ghent.

Frederic: Furniture, interior design and food, they are all closely linked together. They all have a certain aesthetic.

 

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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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and must not be reproduced without our express prior written permission.

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