An interview with Jan Fack

People An interview with Jan Fack

3 March 2014

In this edition we would like to introduce you to Jan Fack. Jan is not only a graphic designer for De Morgen but he started four years ago to restore modern furniture. Scroll down to enter his fascinating world in downtown Ghent and to learn more about his lifestyle and ways of seeing objects.

Blog - Essentiel Antwerp

Jan, you’re a graphic designer and you started four years ago as a conservator of modern furniture. How did it all start?

I started to restore furniture thanks to a combination of different circumstances. As a graphic designer I was solely concerned with digital and I felt the need to work with materials. At that moment, I was also collecting furniture for my own collection in which I came into contact with furniture dealers that were selling damaged furniture. Antique dealers couldn’t help me to restore modern furniture. That is why I started to research the history of furniture, materials, forms, production techniques, the philosophy and the culture of the designer. 

Blog - Essentiel Antwerp

Are there materials you prefer to work with?

(laughs) Not specifically. I have - as you might suspect – worked with a lot of woodwork, because it is often the base of furniture. There is a very extensive knowledge on wood although it stays a world apart. Customs in woodworking are very traditional with many local differences.

Compared to my knowledge of wood, my knowledge of metalworking is still quite limited. I feel that I can still learn a lot about it and that it holds a very high potential for me.

There are also a lot of new manufacturing and bonding techniques that are now opening up a very big learning process. I am thinking of laser engraving and 3D printing. The question, here, is: how do we get a chair out of it? It is interesting to realize that, for example, the link with the history of furniture and the connection techniques are still very important for 3D printing. The knowledge of the traditional crafts are becoming increasingly more important in modern technologies.

Blog - Essentiel Antwerp

Are there projects you prefer to work with?

I joined a project called Onbetaalbaar (Unpayable, op.ed). This is an organization that underlines the importance of the philosophy and the value of objects. They call product designers, conservators, writers, carpenters,... together to combine the artistic and emotional in materialism. A few months ago we were in Antwerp where people brought their furniture pieces that were no longer usable according to them. In the team we gave those specific pieces a new interpretation. Afterwards, the new interpreted furniture pieces were auctioned. Really a very nice initiative where story and identity of objects are given a new life.

Are you planning on designing your own furniture?

At this moment, I’m not at all ready to design my own furniture. I still don’t know where to go in terms of shape, materials,... I still lack too much experience to design it myself.  I should also decide which philosophy, culture, preferred material and production techniques characterize me the most. One thing I am sure of, that is that my first piece would be a chair. A chair for me is the most essential piece of furniture that exists.  What’s the meaning of a room without a chair? 

Blog - Essentiel Antwerp

I suspect you do not put on your fancy clothes while working? 
No, not at all. To work in the atelier I usually wear worn clothes. If I have to sand, I wear an apron of course.

How do you choose your outfit in the morning?
Ah... I try to do everything on how I feel. My wardrobe is not that big because I like to save for more unique pieces that I know that the clothes are made of genuine materials. Therefore, I often choose for smaller brands.

I like to have a privileged relation or connection with a piece, like with furniture. I don’t go as far with clothes as I do with furniture (laughs). This has brought me to the realization, that clothing also has a philosophy, culture and history.


Summer is coming. What is the ideal outfit? 
On a summer evening I like to wear a knitted sweater and my dr. Martens. I don’t always stay in Belgium during summer. I go a lot to more Nordic countries, I always had a weakness for Finland and Sweden. I am researching the culture of Finland at this moment to understand their philosophy, their preferred materials, ...

If you had to choose one item in a man’s closet that is indispensable, what would it be?

Jeans. Jeans can be different for everyone. There are so many different models and colors. It is one of the most essential pieces in a man’s wardrobe. You might even say it is the “chair of a man’s wardrobe”. With a good jeans you can dress for any occasion. A blazer, a sweater, a (T-)shirt make sure the piece becomes multifunctional.


 Blog - Essentiel AntwerpBlog - Essentiel Antwerp

Thanks for the interview, Jan!

Check out Jan’s website for more information on his work and projects here:

Click here for more information on the organization called Onbetaalbaar: