HAMESSE, Paul
(b. 1877, Bruxelles, d. 1956, Bruxelles)

Biography

Belgian interior designer and architect. Son of the painter Adolphe Hamesse (1849-1925), he studied architecture at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. He then worked successively in the offices of Paul Hankar and Alban Chambon (1847-1928). With the latter, he found his true vocation in interior design using numerous ornamental components, manufactured industrially, which he excelled at combining in Art Nouveau compositions.

Assisted by his two brothers, the painters Georges Hamesse (b. 1874) and Léon Hamesse (b. 1883), he responded to the eclectic tastes of the period by exploiting a very broad range of styles in such commissions as the Cohn-Donnay house (1904), the Ameke department store (1905), a masonic lodge (1909) and the Théâtre des Variétés (1909), all in Brussels. He also worked on several cinemas in Brussels, including the Artistic Palace (1913), Pathé Palace (1913; destroyed), Queen's Hall (1919) and Agora (1920-21).

The more austere period following World War I prevented the Hamesse brothers from demonstrating their originality to the full. However, with the revival of the taste for decoration in c. 1925, the year of the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris, they were able to design several shop windows in the main commercial streets of Brussels in the Art Deco style, some large villas in the suburbs and some townhouses in the second ring of development around Brussels. In 1927 they took part in the competition for the Palace of the League of Nations in Geneva.