The emerging Parisian design studio behind our new Dorval light offer their musings on what makes for truly globalized design. Rule one: never be herded by geographic expectations.
Old World, New Tricks | SCMP DESIGN OFFICE
Only a few short years into their own studio practice, Morgane Pluchon and Sébastien Cluzel have already designed for the likes of IKEA, Petite Friture, and Pasabahçe. Last year, the duo behind SCMP DESIGN OFFICE made the rounds at Paris Design Week, armed with one very unusual hanging light. Offering nods to both airport runway beacons and the iconic French Mobylette La Bleue, the layered design earned the pair an Interieur Biennale award—and sparked a partnership with Lambert & Fils. Here, Morgane and Sébastien discuss French design, the typology of objects, and the art of moving on.
We would not define ourselves as Parisian Designers.
We have different influences—a bit of Swiss for instance, a bit of Scandinavian. In Paris, we often see designs not completely to our taste. Despite that, it’s super interesting to discuss the work with the designers. It always useful to talk about something that’s not “your kind” of design.
At our studio, we’re surrounded by collected objects.
We see them as a record of experiences—travelling, visiting exhibitions, and the culture around us. When we find an object that moves us, we have to bring it home and interrogate what we like about it, the shape, the material, the colour. We thought that was a natural thing to do, but we’ve realized from talking to other designers that it’s not the norm. They have empty studio spaces, no clutter. So we know now that this is one of our defining traits. The reference is super important for us.
You need to take space between yourself and your objects.
In 2016, we showed a side table at the Greenhouse fair in Stockholm. It was really new, the first time we were showing it. Another studio ended up showing something super similar and the edit was [picked up] by a major design brand. The studio was maybe just a bit more well known than us, and we felt like we just missed that opportunity. Sometimes, that’s just the deal. You put that thing aside and start something else.
As a young studio, we’re fighting to exist within the larger possibilities for designers now.
We’re launching products alongside big studios and that has its challenges. We don’t have the same impact in the press. When a big name does something as simple as a design drawing, it gets crazy attention. As a young studio, we have to do five times the work to exist.
Dorval began as an exercise in style and free expression.
We initially made the light for Surface Gallery in Saint-Etienne. At the beginning we actually went a bit too far. When you’re a small design studio, sometimes you forget to focus on the context and the market and the purpose of drawing yet another object. That was all part of narrowing in on the typology of objects we really like.
After Dorval debuted in Saint-Etienne, we took some photos and had some positive feedback from one of our former professors who had seen it, so we proposed it for the Rado Star Prize for the Paris Design Week. Then we had really good reaction from the design community. A lot of people told us it was not like anything they’d seen before. With Dorval, it’s usually a love or hate feeling, maybe because it plays so strongly with both industrial design and domestic design. Either way it was creating strong reactions.
The experience gave us the confidence that this was the style we wanted to work in. We thought, this freedom is working—let’s not restrain ourselves.
The Dorval Collection launches October 2018 at the Biennale Interieur in Kortrijk, Belgium. Design by SCMP DESIGN OFFICE, edited and produced by Lambert & Fils. Learn more about our new light, Dorval 01.
Images by: Baptiste Coulon, Alexandra de Cossette, and Arseni Khamzin
Interview by Marie de Cossette and Alexandra Caufin