An exceptional and timeless craft
The overflowing and timeless creativity of Ado Chale
Trained as an ironworker, Ado Chale (born Adolphe Pelsener in 1928) discovered mineralogy during a trip after which he made tables from semi-precious stones – agate, chalcedony, jade, lapis lazuli and turquoise – and then designed models made by hand from resin, cast bronze and aluminium. Around the 1970s, his unique style and recognition reached a peak. This success was reinforced by his proximity to the world of art and architecture in Belgium, his appearance in the largest public and private collections and on the auction market, where his oldest creations regularly set records. Today, Ado Chale’s eponymous workshop continues to produce tables and furniture, based on his original designs and still using Belgian craftsmen, for an increasingly international clientele. Since the new millennium, these pieces have been regularly acquired by aesthetes from all over the world, as well as by the great interior architects for their most prestigious projects.
The royal couple Baudouin I and Fabiola of Belgium, on the occasion of official gifts to the French State and the British Crown, and King Khaled of Saudi Arabia, in their time, as well as gallery owners, collectors and renowned architects, including the American Peter Marino, Frenchman Jean-Louis Deniot are all acknowledged connoisseurs of the work of Belgian Ado Chale, who has never left anyone indifferent since his beginnings and who never ceases to inspire contemporary designers such as Sébastien Capurosso, designer of the year 2021.
Variety, details and finishes of this original furniture
Ado Chale’s first tables, with cement tops inlaid with marcasite from the beaches of Nord-Pas-de-Calais in France, are gradually giving way to surfaces cast in epoxy resin. The creations in cast bronze and aluminium are placed on “tripod” legs. These elements become his signature. The spirit and the sculptural and ornamental character of his works, which also include gold, an alloy of colours with strong decorative power, contribute to his success which has lasted through the ages.
“From the beginning of his activity and as a self-taught man – without having wanted to categorise himself as an artist or designer – my father was inspired by what he found in nature, by his discoveries and by his intuitions. His passion for minerals led him to travel to the four corners of the earth”, explains Ilona Chale, daughter of the designer, who runs the family business with her brother, Pierre Barbion, who continues his father’s passion through the creation of mosaics in semi-precious stones.
Less precious materials such as slate, bone and mother-of-pearl, clothing buttons, peppercorns and even piano keys make this furniture truly singular and recognisable.
“Our workshop produces these iconic models as they were originally created in the 1960s but have never been made before. We are fortunate to have my father’s entire archive at our disposal for this purpose,” continues Ilona Chale. The richness of this work was recently presented in a monograph soberly entitled “Ado Chale -Ilona Chale – Aparté edition 2017”.
“We are happy and grateful that these creations and all their possible variations still appeal, especially in the furniture and decoration sector where there is a plethora of products on offer,” she says. “This is certainly due to the diversity of my father’s universe. Very early on in his career, Ado Chale took a step aside by abandoning the classic round, square or even rectangular shapes of table tops in favour of free, less conventional and sometimes surprising shapes… but all the same seductive. Contemporary art before the word.
Ado Chale’s art, from Brussels to the whole world
La Goutte d’eau and the variations of models signed Ado Chale
Several months of work are necessary to create a piece of furniture in the Ado Chale workshops in Brussels. The diversity of sizes and the wide choice of stones and decorative surface elements constitute the originality, the monumentality as well as the extreme solidity of the large coffee tables, side tables with high or low legs, dining room tables but also consoles, chairs and door handles are offered to the customers.
The “Josephine” table, made up of four parts in bronze or aluminium, a design from the 1960s, is the subject of a limited edition and is still available at the Chale workshop in Brussels. The undisputed bestseller of Ado Chale remains the “Goutte d’eau”, whose decoration of concentric circles is the result of a sand imprint and is made with the greatest respect for tradition. An international clientele, collectors and art lovers are the happy purchasers of Ado Chale’s iconic creations.
For Ilona Chale, “each table is like writing a new story for the workshop, as each of the models imagined by Ado Chale can sublimate the particularities of the materials of which it is made… Their beauty is universal.”
An extraordinary workshop still in operation
The current address of Ado Chale’s workshops is in the shadow of the building occupied by the showroom and stockroom of the company. What looks from afar like simple old stables are historic spaces that Ado Chale has occupied since 1985. At that time, after several collaborations with the modernist Belgian architects André Jacqmain (who designed the decor of his first shop with the ceramic artist Pierre Culot) and artists such as the sculptor Olivier Strebelle, Ado Chale became fascinated by the Hôtel Solvay. A mansion designed and built by Victor Horta between 1895 and 1903 for the prominent Belgian industrialist Armand Solvay, whose main entrance is on Avenue Louise in Brussels.
For some years now, the back building of this emblem of the Art Nouveau style has been the scene of a parade of Ado Chale enthusiasts and devotees, who remember its exhibitions, such as those at the Nancy Museum of Fine Arts and the Ixelles Museum in the second half of the 1980s, and its private pieces, in search of the exceptional in terms of furniture. Their dreams come true in the workshop of Ado Chale, artist, collector, researcher, designer and poet at heart.
Information and visits by appointment
Rue Lens 36, 1050 Ixelles
+32 2 647 82 54