G.Desmet understands the art to convert theory to practice when implementing unusual design ideas.
Designers love to think out of the box. This also applies when they are working with wood. In this way they constantly try to extend the technical boundaries through designs with bizarre bends and undulations. Unachievable? This does not apply when it's up to G.Desmet.
G.Desmet with its 230 employees has been curving and bending wood in any possible way for more than seventy years. The production process is based on traditional craftmanship and innovative industrial technology.
Who is not familiar with the typical school chairs with rounded wooden seats and curved backs? You have probably never given any thought to the fact that there is a whole production process behind these apparently gentle curves. To get started, various veneer layers are peeled from a tree trunk. They are glued and then pressed in a heated mould. Subsequently CNC machines mill the final shapes and drill the mounting holes. Further processing includes varnishing, staining, painting, upholstering…. Bending wood is a matter for professionals, that is for sure.
As a result G.Desmet works for customers at home and abroad. The company owner Dirk Desmet tells us: “Seventy years ago we started manufacturing school furniture too, but nowadays the market has evolved to commodity. We rather distance ourselves from this practice. In our production facilities, we develop prototypes and manufacture big and complex wooden shapes for the top- and midrange segment."
G.Desmet produces finished and semi-finished goods. “One of our strengths is our international designer network. They create new designs, and count on us to put them into practice. They also lead us to new customers that introduce their new design on the market. Besides the furniture industry, the project market is very important for us too. We manufacture custom made shapes for healthcare & nursing homes, hospitality industry, hotels, office industry and interior projects. We realize fifteen percent of our sales in Belgium, the rest of our products is made for other European countries and the US.”
Grading of Veneers
The production in the Desmet company starts with the tree trunks. When they have been steamed for several hours, they are debarked easily and peeled into veneers. Sales manager Patrick Demeester tells us: “We work mostly with beech wood because of its mechanical properties und local availability” The veneers are graded. “This is an important process, depending on the function of the veneer. A core layer does not have to look as perfect as the top layer has to. Our shapes consist of three up to twenty layers. They can be varnished, painted or finished with decorative veneer or synthetic material.”
Hundreds of Tools
The shapes are pressed in moulds, manufactured by Desmet or an external company. In the course of the years we have produced about thousand tools. In these with electricity or steam-heated moulds, the glued veneer layers are pressed. The glue cures as a result of the heat, in a way that a solid whole of veneer layers is created. After the moulding process, the basic shape is positioned onto a milling jig and the contours are cut out by a CNC millingmachine.
G.Desmet is often visited by technical schools and trainees. “In this way a lot of people start their careers here. Young people regard engineering and CNC machines as particularly challenging. For the moulding department it's harder to find the right persons to do the job, although activities are becoming increasingly interconnected nowadays. In the past there was a strict separation between veneer grading, moulding, CNC-milling,... Today our employees are expected to be multi-skilled to meet the requirements of our clients flexibly. Actually everybody should be able to do everything. That is why we are looking for people with a passion for wood."