An Exclusive Interview With Normal Studio at Maison et Objet 2019 ⇒ Under the name of Normal Studio, Jean-François Dingjian and Eloi Chafaï defend an Elementary Design. These two creators are less attached to the formal search for an object than to the tool that will make it, the one that generates the shape and guides them in the first sketches of a chair, table or even a luminaire. Behind their name slips a palate for the right forms. Deeply committed to the social and cultural values of design, these authors produce timeless objects that don’t obey to any trends.
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In a rather informal format, we sat with the French duo at the Covet House stand in Maison et Objet. The setting, created by a mixture of Brabbu, Boca do Lobo, Delightfull and Foogo pieces, set the mood for a conversation that most certainly became an ode to the design world. Eloï and Jean, the two incredibly accomplished designers that compose the duo, started by describing Normal Studio.
‘’We are a small studio and we do about everything regarding industrial design, furniture design, lighting fixtures, interior architecture and artistic consultation for the brand. We’re like a small family. Very artisanal. ‘’
It was somehow unavoidable to speak about craftsmanship. It is probably the hottest topic in the industry right now, and everyone wants to have something to say about it. Either in the form of words, like many who advocate protective legislation to secure the longevity of the arts, or, like Normal Studio, the ones who rely on expert craftsmen’s work.
‘’Yes, we often work with galleries like Carpenter’s Workshop, which has exceptional craftsmen that are very hard to find. It’s very satisfactory to research with these guys, with their savoir-faire. We like to reintroduce craftsmanship into contemporary and modern design, always with ancient techniques and materials.
As for their favourite type of project, they don’t have a specific one, per se. They both agreed that trying out new things and researching new ways and concepts is what they love the most.
‘’I think we love the new thing in general, the things we don’t know. Our last project was quite a big one, which was the renovation of the Museum of Decorative Arts, in Paris. All the contemporary part, which is about 2000sqm. It opened last October. ‘’
Cite Radieuse – expo Normal Studio
Looking back at their work, both Eloï and Jean agree that they do not have a signature style. Well, not willingly, at least. They seek to make timeless pieces and designs. Trends do not matter for the award-winning duo.
‘’I think that’s something we do unwillingly. I think that our approach to design is more of a timeless one. We think, in a way, that we try to make objects that are timeless and contemporary. And I think that, in the end, we end up unwillingly having a style, but that’s not really a style. We seek to create an object that it is timeless, with an excellent quality. We create durable objects, which becomes our answer to the ecological need. To produce in a fair way.’’
Some argue that the process of a project’s production is what matters the most. For Eloï and Jean, it’s not about the process, it’s about the tools used to produce.
“I think it is very important to understand how things are made, the tools that make them, the techniques used and so on. And designing for that context. To design and to understand how things are made. Either if you work with marble, bronze, blown-glass, wood or other contemporary materials, it is important to understand it and to design to understand it. And the design is thought regarding that production.”
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