Amidst the bustle of Paris’s 12th arrondissement sits an iconic atelier and within it, a trove of hand drawings dating back 180 years. Spanning styles from Napoleon III to Art Nouveau and Louis XV, Rinck’s design archive is an unwitting history of French furniture. In the age of iCloud storage and CAD renderings, the monumental collection presents an anomaly, but then, so does the company it chronicles.
A true ensemblier décorateur, Rinck is the only French furniture and fabrication company still designing and manufacturing in-house today. Its eponymous watercolors and coated paper sketches are the first indication of an emphasis on touch-of-hand that guides each creation from seed idea through finished product—an ethos echoed in its outposts and reverberated by leadership. Notes Valentin Goux, the second-generation vice president of the family-run firm, “We believe our designers need to be able to draw to understand proportion and scale, and that’s not about to change. Artistic drawings are still of utmost importance.”
With three ateliers—one in Ardennes dedicated to cabinetmaking and one in Drôme for boiserie and millwork, in addition to the Paris design headquarters—Rinck’s specialties run the gamut from marquetry, veneers and gilding, to latticework, ornamental carving and trompe l’oeil. Employed throughout the workshops is a network of master craftspeople, some disciples of classic cabinetmaking schools and others from Les Compagnons, the Medieval-rooted, UNESCO- protected group of artisans who train in the field in towns across France.
With design and build talents under the same roof, each piece becomes a dynamic meeting of the minds. “Once we get to prototyping, the designers work with the craftsmen weekly to refine the designs and make them perfect,” shares Goux.
While Rinck’s intimate, tactile approach stands as testament to handcrafted tradition, the company is ever looking forward in both execution and creative vision, evidenced by its sleek new contemporary collection—the first modern ensemble in 50 years. Spurred by an off-the-cuff conversation over a team lunch, a beloved 1930s sycamore table was unearthed from the archives, in turn inspiring a full dining room suite of table, armchairs, side chairs, console and sconces.
Edging on modernist in gleaming French walnut and black nickel, a dash of Rinck’s token classicism is still evident in the foliate- embossed velvet upholstery. “It’s very 19th century, but in a fresh way,” notes Goux. “These are the kind of pieces you keep for generations.”