weekly feature | Mar 16, 2016 |
Rinck, France’s exquisite design stalwart, celebrates 175 years

By Katy B. Olson
Shagreen, parchment, chiseled bronze, French polishing, marquetry, sculpture: Quintessential French design contractor Rinck boasts five generations of master craftsmen that have perfected its range of extraordinary decorative arts over the last 175 years. In that time, the company has changed hands, but much has remained the same; in fact, one of its two workshops can be found at the original 11th arrondissement address in Paris it has called home since its 1841 founding. But Rinck isn’t just the European interior designer’s best-kept secret. On the occasion of this year’s anniversary, CEO Thierry Goux shares with EAL readers a glimpse into the company’s time-tested services, its long-heralded ingenuity and, arguably, its most interesting new venture: a foray into castle flipping.

Rinck is a general design contractor, outfitted with an in-house design office as well as two France-based workshops; one in Paris, focused on cabinetmaking and known for its “exceptional finishes,” says Goux, and another in the South of France, dedicated to millwork, ornamental boiserie and other technical bespoke interior projects. One area of expertise is drawing and fabricating traditional French artisanal techniques like bronze, trellises, parchment and shagreen.

Black lacquered chests of drawers with gilt accents, kingwood-and-mahogany coffee tables, sofas with gold-leaf finishings, chairs of ebony, walnut and sycamore: Rinck’s handcrafted pieces, distinctively French and spanning styles from art nouveau to art deco, are nothing if not immaculately detailed, thanks to the firm’s team of tradesmen specialized in wood, metal and finishing.

Explains Goux, “We are here to make the artisan’s work understandable and easy for architects and designers. With that in mind, we often draw and fabricate boiseries, whether ornamental or simpler ones, to fine-tune interior designers’ or architects’ projects.”

Rinck came into its own in the 1930s, with then-director Maurice Rinck “infusing” art deco into the craftsmanship, a creative decision that led to Rinck’s Gold Medal for innovation at the 1937 International Exhibition in Paris. (Rinck earned a similar distinction again 20 years later, winning the Grand Prix at the International Exhibition in Brussels alongside Citroën and Christian Dior.)

But today the company is one of only two of its kind remaining in France. Is its work in danger of being phased out by the advent of more technological solutions? “In the last 20 years, we felt the beginning of a divorce between the architectural world and our trades,” explains Goux, who attributes that fissure to a number of causes: turnover in architect and design studios, an increase in “more demanding and complicated clients,” and evolving and changing styles. In response, Rinck recommitted to making its services simple, offered via in-house technical and design offices with project managers, designers and artisans who deliver custom design and cabinet- and furniture-making.

Rink began developing extensive work internationally in the 2000s, with big projects in New York, the Middle East and Russia. The firm’s current focus is international, but its newest business involves some very old institutions: Rinck is now acquiring and renovating castles in France, and it has opened a specific subsidiary for that purpose. Stay tuned to EAL to hear more about that business as details develop.

Learn more about Rinck’s services for designers.

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