The Flanders Tapestry Collection was founded in 2014 by Johan Verbruggen. Originally from Belgium, Johan is from a family of textile, lace and embroidery manufacturers.
The origin of The Flanders Tapestry Collection can be traced back to 1876 when Johan’s great-great-grandparents founded their lacemaking business in a small city called Lier, near Antwerp, Belgium. Their company ran for three generations but it was under the management of Johan’s grandparents, Maria Nevelstein and Jozef De Backer that the business flourished and expanded dramatically offering employment to over 250 crafts men. They specialized in a variety of artisanal needlepoint techniques in particular a fine and delicate type of silk tulle hand-embroidered lace and petit-point.
In his youth Johan often spent time at his grandparent’s house. Surrounded by wonderful textiles, beautifully designed beaded items and intricate embroidery, his fascination and love for this craft grew.
The company closed down in 1982 after more than 100 years of trading.
Johan moved to London in 1993 and started his career with Liberty of London. As buyer for Haberdashery, Needlecraft and the world famous Dress Fabrics Department, he found himself in very familiar territory and started developing his knowledge and design skills.
In 2003 Johan moved to become a buyer and product developer for The Royal Collection Trust. He created numerous successful product ranges for the gift shops in Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Johan now lives in the South of France near the historic city of Uzes where he dedicates his time to creating stylish tapestry projects. He often uses different shades in a single stitch to create the subtle and detailed colour variations seen in flowers. Using surprising and unusual background colours to enhance his designs, The Flanders Tapestry Collection produces pieces to suit every interior.
In Memory of Jozef De Backer
Jozef De Backer passed away on 31st August 2014 at the age of 103. From a very early age I realised what a remarkable man he was. His work ethic, attention to detail and his determination to deliver only the best were just a few of his traits, and as a grandfather he didn’t expect any less from us. This inspired me to launch my own designs and to found The Flanders Tapestry Collection. If I have inherited only a fraction of his qualities, then I am a very lucky man.
Together with my grandmother he continued and expanded an already successful business through hard work, discipline and vision. They dealt with an array of interesting and influential people in the fashion industry. Their enthusiasm, profound belief in their venture and an impeccable eye for good design created an accessory emporium renouned for its quality and style. They designed and manufactured numerous collections of beaded and embroidered handbags along with a splendid range of accessories that even featured on the New York catwalks.
Voke, as we called him, didn’t witness the launch of The Flanders Tapestry Collection two weeks after he passed away. But he saw the initial designs, packaging and branding.
I will always be grateful for his belief in what I was about to venture into and for his sound advice based on a lifetime of invaluable knowledge.
Maria Nevelstein and Jozef De Backer (seated) Beaded purse produced in Belgium for Walborg New York
selecting beads in Czechoslovakia
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