March 1, 2012
The French designer talks about collaboration, clients’ dreams, and gymnastics of the mind.
The completion of a private villa in Nice that I designed. Two hotel projects underway, one in the south of France and one in Senegal with an NGO. Developing sign-age for the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud. The publication of a monograph with Rizzoli, Matali Crasset: Works. New and ongoing projects for Alessi, Campeggi, Danese, and Nodus.
FIRST STEP ON A PROJECT
The first step is the landscapes I have in my head: reflecting, thinking. I have an intellectual approach to design. This may sound strange, but I don’t need to go through drawings or models. The project is already crystallized in me. The computer is there for me to present it to my clients.
LAST STEP ON A PROJECT
To share it, to use it
After a referral error—when I shared my desire to be a designer, a guidance counselor told me that it was a dream as impossible as plucking the moon from the sky—I joined Les Ateliers ENSCI [the École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle, in Paris]. At the time, it was the only national school that trained students in the profession of industrial design. My education was a period of experimentation and pure pleasure.
Denis Santachiara showed me that you could work with freedom. From Philippe Starck I learned a gymnastics of the mind, allowing me to move from one project to another and from one level to another with rigor and flexibility. And then Bruno Munari, Nanna Ditzel, and Joe Colombo are important to me for various reasons—as important as Gaston Bachelard, Georges Perec, and Michel Foucault.
Staying with the times. Increasingly in this profession, across the projects that I manage, I see myself more as a midwife. My role is less and less to shape the material or the aesthetic, but rather to bring out and unite common values and intentions, links, and networks of expertise. The majority of the projects I am currently working on highlight this dimension of teamwork and collaboration.
I have no dream project, no dream of power, only this one: to realize the dreams of the people who have the curiosity to knock at the door of my studio. I prefer for them to let me take their dreams, because they lead me much further than my expectations.
FIRST ACT AS “DESIGN CZAR”
Neither star nor czar
A chair by Ray and Charles Eames from their Aluminum Group series. Because of it, I no longer have back pain.
The HI Radio station, programmed bythe label Kompakt
An M/M candle
MOST USEFUL TOOL
BEST PLACE TO THINK
At home, at my desk, along with an espresso
I have immersed myself in the writings and the life of Jane Addams for an exhibition on “political fiction” organized by Alexandra Midal at the Cité du Design in Saint-Étienne. I am designing a room that will be dedicated to her.
Belleville, the “island” where I live in Paris: a phalanstery and a piece of countryside in the city. Also, the farm that I planned for a friend in the Loire. A farm surrounded by a forest is a haven of peace.
They’re not really good for the body, but for the mind, without doubt: Nutella and creamy chocolate desserts!