A visit to van Cronenburg Architectural Hardware, Ghent Belgium 

"Hardware is a small yet important detail in a house: it harbors comfort, safety and beauty. As small as the  pieces may be, generally fitting in the palm of ones hand, they are able to transform a house completely, to reveal the character of a room or the personality of its owners."

"The more virtual our world becomes,
the more we need the physical..." - Ilse Crawford

Hardware is the first object that one touches as they enter a home, and the last experience that is felt as one exits. A masterful piece of hardware has the warmth and the familiarity we crave, a connection to the past, or an indication and nod to the future. The details and curves can illustrate the historical context, but it is the way it is felt in the hand that can leave the true impression..It is these details in a home that create a feeling that is often felt, but can be hard to describe. A certain warmth if you will, a feeling of presence.

Last month, on a visit to Belgium, I visited the foundry and offices of Peter van Cronenburg Architectural Hardware in Ghent, Belgium. To be honest, it was one of the stops I was most looking forward to for the trip.  Over the past years I've become more interested in cabinet and door hardware for homes, seeking companies who can create custom selections for clients.  We recently used van Cronenburg's hardware on a home we are designing in Los Angeles, so the opportunity to meet Peter and Regine was a priority. 

Regine welcomed us on the cold Belgian morning, and led us around the foundry explaining the history of the foundry, Peter's past work as a cabinetmaker, as well as how each piece is cast and finished.  I watched in awe, as a metal base was shifting on the lathe, and it was carved and finished to precision. It was not unlike the feeling of watching a master glassblower, true magic before your eyes as the shapes form. Another team member was delicately carving by hand, before him an array of tools, not unlike a jewelry maker.  The amount of work into each piece they create is unbelievable.  Regine explained the casting process, and informed us of a terrific project in New York City on Bond Street that their team are restoring the original iron exterior detailing.  Their excitement and dedication towards the line of work is humbling, though not surprising. Their office recently opened an office in New York City, as their client base continues to expand.

A massive thank you to Peter and Regine and their team for welcoming us into their offices and foundry, the wonderful dinner we shared, and the rainy afternoon we spent in Ghent! I hope to return to Belgium soon. - David John

"Peter van Cronenburg started out as a cabinet maker in 1983, specializing in high-end paneling, libraries and interior doors. The bifurcation to architectural hardware came from the frustration not to find the exact hardware he wanted to finish his realizations. Most items on the market were to him too 19th century, with a mechanical finish and artificial patina. So he started collecting historic pieces in order to reproduce them. He searched for craftsmen who executed their work in a traditional way and who shared his vision of esthetics and craftmanship. Stimulated by some major Belgian architects and their customers, Peter van Cronenburg enlarged the collection, day by day.  With the same passion as with which he designed custom-made paneling and libraries using paper and pencil, he developed new models to respond to esthetical and technical challenges.  Over the years, van Cronenburg has envolved into a high-service company with its own foundry that delivers high quality hand-made hardware. The main manufacturing processes are forging and casting (sand casting as well as ‘cire perdue’), depending on the design and function of the piece.  The roots of a cabinet-making are still present, as his team counts cabinet makers, who assist in the right choice of hardware on site or do the installation of the hardware when desired. But the in- house skills were enlarged with e.g. design specialists (2D and 3D software), for dynamic prototyping, as well as interior architects. "

Van Cronenburg Architectural Hardware 
+32 9 336 37 34