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Around Faustine’s desk on the Rive Gauche: an interview with cabinetmakers in the rue de Verneuil
Next up in the series by our office manager Faustine Cressot, giving you regular glimpses of the neighborhood around her desk on the rue de Verneuil, is an interview with cabinetmakers Laura and Yvan at the Ebénisterie Tapisserie de la rue de Verneuil.
The word ébénisterie (cabinetmaking) appeared in the French dictionary for the first time in 1732, distinguishing between the professions of cabinetmaker and carpenter. It comes from the word ébène (ebony), whose Egyptian root indicates a precious black wood. Decorative rather than functional, ebony gave its name to the profession.
I visited a little cabinetmaking workshop established since 2007 at 46 rue de Verneuil in the 7th arrondissement (district). Laura and Yvan explained more about cabinetmaking, a skilled craft typical of the neighborhood.
Explain your profession and your specialty
A cabinetmaker’s craft mainly involves applying thin sheets of precious wood called veneer to a piece of furniture, made mostly of solid wood, to conceal its structure completely or partially.
Our workshop specializes in restoration work, during which we are careful not to alter the style of the original piece of furniture. To achieve that, we try to use as far as possible existing features that we can salvage and not to over-decorate the piece.
The essence of cabinet making is the sparing use of precious wood and careful conservation during restoration work.
When did you move here and why did you choose this location?
Our workshop moved here six years ago but it actually dates back to 1838. Before 2007, we were based in a little courtyard at 13 rue de Lille. We chose to move here because it allowed us to benefit much more from passing trade. We also recently opened an upholstery workshop so that we can carry out all of the restoration work on our clients’ furniture. We wanted to stay in the same neighborhood as far as possible.
Who are your customers?
We work with a lot of residents of the neighborhood, most of them French. Certain families have used our workshop’s services for a long time – several generations in some cases. Word of mouth is our principal means of attracting customers but we also work with the many antiques dealers in the 6th and 7th arrondissements, who often call upon us.
What do you think of this neighborhood?
It’s a neighborhood that provides us with numerous opportunities and a refined and friendly clientele, which is not easy to find everywhere. Speaking personally, the neighborhood character here is very strong and it has a village-like ambiance that’s very authentic.