● What about your beginning in design? How did you start your studio?
Ronan was the first to be interested by art, mainly because he was older and had made the early decision, after trying different media (photo, etc.), to focus on design. He thus made some design studies and began a designer carrier. Erwan also decided to aim for a creative carrier when he was a teenager. Then he studied art and it progressively became quite evident for him to work together with Ronan. He began by helping him, then by making some projects himself.
We got clearly associated in 1997 / 1998. This evolution till the design choice was thus very natural for each of us, one step after the other on the same path. We were very lucky to have an ideal development of sorts. Ronan had been working as a designer for a long time before the turning point. But one can say this turning point occurred quite early and simply, since we are still both very young.
● What is your design philosophy? How do you define your style?
It is difficult for us to qualify our style or concept. We do not have a precise philosophy. However, we make a great point of designing pieces that can be integrated in people’s interiors, whatever the cultural background may be. It results in projects that we would describe as “not too noisy”. But in a sense, it is the industrial design logic itself, whose aim is the huge market. As we do not know exactly the context in which each of our objects will end, we try to take out everything that does not seem necessary. Justness is very important to us. A good project is a good alchemy of many factors, including aesthetic and functionality. The balance is different in each project, there is no rule.
● Are there any movements or currents such as golden age of Italian post-modern design that influenced you? Which masters are important for you?
We do not feel we really have a specific mentor. However, it is true we appreciate very much the work of some designers like the Eames, Georges Nelson…Castiglioni and Andrea Branzi. But also Jasper Morrison.
● To what extent do other disciplines influence your work?
We do not feel inspiration as being ever direct. It is far more complex. However, it is true observation can be considered as our main external influence. We try to observe accurately people’s behaviours in everyday life and to understand usual practices and needs. In fact we have a deep interest, or even a passion for small details of life, the way people consider objects, the way they use them etc.
We are very much interested in many art forms: graphics, photos, cinema, music, contemporary art. We are greedy for creation in general. If it is true we do not have time to visit too many exhibitions or to follow everything, we happen to see many things through the press. And we are diffusely nourished by this mixing up of projects and artistic expressions.
As for artworks that may influence us in a diffuse way, it is true we appreciate very much artists like Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly or Frank Stella, for example. But we never felt their influence as being direct.
● Which design or period that you can describe as a turning point in your
The meeting with Giulio Cappellini was this turning point. He taught us the reality of industry in a quite soft and understandable way. Then we were very lucky to meet quite fast some decisive people of prestigious and open-minded companies.
Giulio Cappellini led us to our first industrial reality: open, daring and communicative. Confident in the choices he makes, he took us a long way, to a place where profit is more complex than a best-seller. He is one of the first people to trust us and to give us incredible projects. Collaboration is a dialogue nourished by mutual respect and a common will to make the projects be possible.
● How do you work together? What kind of a work sharing you have?
On the one hand, we are brothers who grew up with the same background and same deep relationship with shape and colour. We have a common understanding about more general things. Yet there is five years of an age difference. So we didn’t go to the same school or have the same friends. We can have quite different points of view.
We can have a really high level of understanding of each other but still disagree with each other. We try to dialogue a lot. Every project is discussed for a long time, at each step of the project. And at the end what is important is that we find a common view, a solution that satisfies both of us. When we disagree, we make everything to find an agreement.
On the other hand, some projects are, at some moments, more borne by one of us, when the other one takes the relay and vice-versa. There is no a priori repartition. It depends on the project, on the moment and on the context. Many people would like us to point out some clear roles, but it is just impossible because it is always mixed up. We both think, we both draw, we both follow each step of each project. And if we miss one of it, we follow the next one.
● With changing work habits and technology, today’s offices are described as “new playgrounds”. Which points are you considering in your office designs to create more playful and motivating office space for employees?
The mission of design in the future is maybe to accompany and anticipate the evolution of our shared ecosystem in the most correct way. In our case, we are interested in helping people re-organise their working space, and re-organise their living space. In our work, we have been developing solutions to the questions, ‘How do you deal with Architecture” and ‘How do you create a separation, or a kind of wall” and ‘How do you customise an interior space to suit your needs” We have done some nice work in this area but in ways that are often perceived as unrealistic. What we mean is that they might be too expensive for some. And though people are really surprised by them and like them, at the same time people don’t use them on a large scale because they are still too afraid of them or not ready for them.
● Can you tell us what you have been working on recently?
We have been very concentrated in a new projet, the 4 exhibitions we made in Rennes. It was the first time we worked about urban spaces and the exhibitions were as an experimental notebook.
● Finally, what advice would you give to the young designers?
Work, work, work! Be sincere. Try to design projects for the industry, but first without have the real knowledge of industry, so that you can over go the borders of industry itself. Try to focus on a goal and to enlarge the limits of possibilities without knowing the limits.