Q+A with Ilse De Cleene, founder of IDC Home and sales & design professional with both Belgian & Canadian citizenship.
IDC: What makes IDC Home a great company?
IDC Home: We make beautiful Belgian furniture easily accessible to Canadian architects and designers. It’s not only a business but also a passion project of mine. About 10 years ago my husband had a job transfer from Belgium to Canada and the whole family followed. After getting settled, I entered the Interior Decorator program at Sheridan college, and after my graduation I started IDC Home in 2017. That was also the year that CETA (European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) came into effect, and as a result, European products became much more attractive for Canadian clients as imported duties disappeared. Originally, I started as a manufacturers’ agent with one product line, the custom bedding from Mirabel Slabbinck . It was an immediate success, so we expanded the model to represent more Belgian suppliers. We received a lot of support from the Belgian government and, together with Flanders Investment and Trade (Flemish government) and Fedustria (Belgian Furniture Association), I developed the IDC Home concept, that now represents 10 complementary furniture lines with a showroom at TIDC (Toronto Interior Design Centre). We call it the “Belgian Design Experience Centre.”
IDC: Coincidentally, we share an acronym. What does IDC stand for in IDC Home, and how did the name come about?
IDCH: That is really a coincidence. My name is Ilse De Cleene, so I took the first letter from my name and that is where the IDC comes from. As it is my belief that beautiful furniture helps to make a house a home, combining my initials with the home aspect was a natural fit.
IDC: Why is it important to provide Canadian customers access to Belgian design?
IDCH: When it comes to design aesthetics, Belgium is situated in the middle of two extremes – in the North, the Scandinavian style is very minimalistic, very calming, but also warm. To the South is Italy, which is very extravagant, elegant, and rich. Belgians capture that elegance in a very serene way, which makes Belgian design remarkably simple, understated yet sophisticated. It comes from pairing the North and the South and being just in the middle of both influences.
Belgian style can be a remarkably interesting style for Canadian architects and designers because it is not a difficult style. You have all the natural materials with a trendy vibe to it, so it can be used with any architectural style, making it very versatile. It is inherent to Belgians to adapt easily in different cultures, and the same goes for its design — it will adapt to any environment.
Designing for small spaces and sustainability is important in North America, and Belgian furniture manufacturers are remarkably successful in meeting this demand. Many Belgian companies focus on the circular economy, C-to-C or Cradle-to-Cradle. As Belgians live very close together, their goal is to return the furniture and reuse all the materials again. Indera was the first sofa manufacturer in Belgium to do that with its Sintesse Eco line. When the sofa is old, every little part of the sofa can be salvaged and put back into production.
IDC: What is the ‘Belgian Design Experience Centre’ and how did the idea come about?
IDCH: In our showroom at TIDC suite 106-108, we have a lot of products on display, so designers and architects can experience Belgian design with their clients. For a sofa, you really need to feel how it sits and its comfort level. Some designers send the client to us and we make sure that we send all the information and feedback to the architect or designer, so they can move forward. We are here to help the architect, landscape architect, and designer grow their business with Belgian design.
IDC: How can IDC members find out more about IDC Home or get in touch with you?
Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/IDC_home/
Visit our website – www.idc-home.ca