The Versaille parquet pattern has been a mainstay since it was introduced in the late 17th century in Louis XIV’s famed palace. But not all French parquet patterns have stood the test of time, and one Belgian wood floor pro is hoping to give a “forgotten” French floor pattern a second chance.
Introduced and patented in 1925 by Frenchman Ernest Noël, the Parquet Noël pattern has largely gone the way of the dodo. “One hundred years later, this pattern is not well known anymore,” says Thomas De Coninck of Spiere-Helkijn, Belgium-based Parquet Supplies. “But in Belgium and France, there are still thousands of square meters of survivor floors.”
Looking at the amount of work and material that goes into making one, it’s perhaps not surprising that the Parquet Noël slipped out of favor. The slim fingerblocks are separated by larger-than-average gaps that are then filled in with a hefty combination of glue and mortar.
The mortar was sometimes colored, often brown or red, back in Noël’s heyday, says De Coninck.
Perhaps the most famous example of the pattern that survives can be found in the Villa Cavrois, a 1932 modernist mansion in Croix, France, that now serves as a museum.
De Coninck has a longstanding passion for wood flooring history, as his collection of 1950s gas-powered big machines can attest. So when he learned about the Parquet Noël, he was determined to attempt to bring it back into vogue. He’s been experimenting and creating samples of the unique pattern for months.
“This pattern and special joint filler is a 100-year-old craft,” De Coninck says. “It is almost lost… Let us safeguard this craft for the future by passing on knowledge.”