De Coene Frères (Courtrai –Belgium)
Joseph François De Coene (1875-1950) was an entrepreneur from Courtrai who made a considerable contribution to the Flemish arts and crafts. He was the oldest son of the upholsterer Adolphe De Coene and Coralie Tavernier, a painter from Ghent. In 1905 his brother Adolphe and his brothers in law Arthur Deleu and Marcel Brunein joined the business, which they called ‘De Coene Frères’. In this early period, they were inspired by Henry Van de Velde and the Arts and Crafts movement.
The destruction of World War I resulted in a serious demand for joinery and carpentry. De Coene Frères quickly capitalized on this opportunity. The ambition of Joseph De Coene brought him further: in 1921 he went with De Win to the United States. Back home he developed a serial production of furniture in laminated wood and participated in international exhibitions: Milan, Paris, Roubaix, Brussels. The innovative furniture from their workshops received several prizes and medals. After some years the company rebranded itself to ‘Kortrijkse Kunstwerkstede Gebroeders De Coene’. Just before World War II they employed almost 3.000 men and the ‘Kunstwerkstede’ was at the top of European wooden furniture production.
De Coene was an excellent networker. From 1922 to 1940 he opened up the doors of his house for their weekly ‘Monday Tables’. Among the regular guests were Stijn Streuvels, Willem Putman, Albert Saverys, Herman Teirlinck, August Vermeylen, Jef van Hoof and Henry van de Velde. The last one was like a spiritual father for the ‘Kunstwerkstede’ and he could regularly be found in their factory. De Coene also received international designers such as Marcel Breuer, Harry Bertoia, Mies van der Rohe, or Eero Saarinen.