Henry Belfor is the sole designer for Brooklyn, New York-based European Closet & Cabinet. The company, started in 1984, was purchased soon-after by Belfor’s father Mike who has a background in engineering. Belfor later started working with his father in 1990 and has been with the company ever since.
Although Belfor essentially oversees daily operations at the family-run business, designing is what he loves most. And he prefers the old-school method of hand-drawn designs.
“We don’t use CAD software or anything else,” he says. “I’ve got a book…and a pen. Everything is done by hand.”
Henry Belfor, designer European Cabinet & Closet
The reason? Well, it’s not because he’s a technophobe. He trusts his senses and creativity to figure out the complexities of space.
“I love technology. I have the latest of everything, but there’s something about not relying on anything except for your hands and your own creativity to design something,” Belfor notes. “I don’t have limits. I don’t have to deal with a computer. I don’t have to deal with anything. I come in, and they see the design right away, like straight as I’m designing it - they see it on the paper as it happens.
There’s no waiting time. There’s no letting the computer do anything. The computers don’t create any design.
“If you design a space ... and it sounds really kind of frilly and artsy and whatever, but I go in and I feel it out. Physically, I’ll go in, I stick my arms out, and I’ll do this…dance. And people look at me weird, and I’m going, ‘I’m sorry, but I kind of have to do this because I want to feel your space. I want to see where you’re gonna walk. I want to figure out where your clothes will be. I want to see where your shelves are ...’ There’s a lot of hand motions involved, but yeah, the design is all by hand.”
Belfor says because he doesn’t view the job as simply sales and since he doesn’t work on commission, it allows him more freedom and flexibility in design. “I don’t have to be like, ‘Oh, I have to sell these people some extra stuff.’ I actually do the opposite. I’m like, ‘Listen, maybe you shouldn’t spend so much money.’ We develop trust this way with the client. So, we work really closely and make sure the designs are right for everybody. It sounds really “salesmany” to say that I’m not a salesman, but I really am not.”
That process has worked out extremely well for European Closet & Cabinet. The company, which doesn’t advertise and receives all referrals through word-of-mouth and reputation, is booked two months in advance.
When it comes to color trends, Belfor says “grey is huge.”
“About five years ago, a client custom-ordered a particular material. It was a gray color. We never had a gray color. Dad was like, ‘Wow, this is really beautiful,’ and I said, ‘Dad ... let’s start carrying this color because it looks really nice.’ So, he gives the okay and then it became our hottest color. Since then, I’ve introduced four other gray colors. And [the color] looks really great on textures, which I’m doing a lot of. Instead of just having a flat finish, there’s texture to [the panels], which feels richer, nicer. The material, it feels like you have something substantial in your closet. So that’s the trend. The design trends right now are grays, textures, and mixing colors.”
Belfor’s work, which was featured on HGTV’s “The Property Brothers,” about a year and half ago showcased mixed colors and textures.
Learn more about European Closet & Cabinet at europeancloset.com.