INTERVIEW WITH CLAIRE COUSSEAU AND GABRIEL LOIRAT, FOUNDERS OF STUDIO FIGURES:
Figures is a functional, creative studio, founded by Claire Cousseau and Gabriel Loirat, in search of material enlightenment, based in Paris, France. We have design and architecture background, we met in Paris after several international experiences in high-end fashion. Now, we live and work in Paris in the 18th arrondissement, a patchwork neighborhood close to the famous flea-market “Les Puces de St Ouen”.
Contrasting this hectic side where our everyday life is, our hearts are close to the sea in Brittany… We travel or escape for a few days through this territory as much as we can or need. A necessary time to reconnect with ourselves and the Nature. Our subtle balance sketches the outlines of a new repertoire of lines and materials, basis of our work.
When did you get interested in design?
Instinctively, we can’t remember… Probably because it’s something we had in mind even if we didn’t realize it, which evolves with us.
What is your mission?
It is more important that never to create, imagine and find another form of inspiration more personal and introspective guided by positive feelings. Works encompasse products for the living environment with a high preoccupation for materiality and experimentation. Positioned at the interface between industry and art, Figures creates pieces characterized by conceptual design, clean aesthetics and functional forms. Pure shapes meet with subtle color way for a reduced aesthetic.
How would you define your style?
A neutral Colorama, soft tones which could interact with light and different noble materials. Something not really complicated at first sight, but attractive where every detail are chosen for its quality, sustainability and aesthetic. It could come closer to rationalist architecture with a certain touch of Wabi-sabi.
What inspires you?
Our work is usually highly influenced by our journeys, meetings and impulsion. Going wild and taking time to reconnect with elements, especially when surfing, is an essential part of our creative routine. Free shapes, but also geometric forms and stable structure of architecture, have a strong resonance in our process and design.
A light, a view, a wave or just a shade, can easily become the start of something…
What comes first – the materials or the design idea?
In our approach, first come free shapes, then we give them an intention, a true primary function. This system merges into an aesthetic, at the same time raw and subtle. It gives the furniture a voluntary high propensity to ambiguity. For all of our furniture line, wood was an evidence for its eco-friendly quality, sustainability and resistance… It’s literally a living material.
What part of the designing process excites you the most?
Guided by intuition, we need to experiment to create products, it can be with a charcoal drawing, a quick mock-up even a folding paper. A drawing, a piece of photography are spontaneous, instantaneous a way for us to present an idea quickly, to get an intention. By cutting, modeling or other unconventional ways… We need to feel the material, the product. Our prototypes are meticulously handcrafted in our studio with all the possible finish.
What designers have influenced you over the years?
Many people influenced our vision of design or at least question it… By a gesture, an idea, a color… To mention just a few: french architect Pol Abraham, Hans Hartung, Sol LeWitt and more contemporary Lee Bae or Max Lamb.
How Italy inspires your designs?
Our designs, especially the chair “Droi” was made to blend with the nuances of Puglia’s idyllic landscape and pay homage to the culture that envelops it. We tried to create an object which evolved from tradition to everyday life and the contemporary era. The idea was to establish a dialogue between Pugliese architecture and furniture. A construction as a simplification to the standard, applied with a minimalist bias. We become more aware of the necessity to create authentic artwork which bring a peaceful and calm atmosphere.
What are you working on at the moment, are there any projects that you can shed some light on?
In the next weeks, we have in mind to integrate an interior design dimension to our studio, for residential, retail or hospitalities projects, thanks to our professional background in interior architecture. Some singular and pure volumes created by proportions, geometry, circulation, full and empty… The vision is to create straightforward functional, aesthetic design with an eye for contemporary living, a kind of holistic experience.
What do you see for the future of design?
We hope design will invite us even more to contemplation and to focus on essential, with sustainable and lifelong projects environmentally friendly in its material and construction choice. A new way of living where we can do more with less.
Studio picture on the top of the article by Cédric Tauzin