About Pierre Foulonneau

Graduated in Industrial Design from l’École de Design Nantes Atlantique in 2003. I live and work in Nantes, France, where I crate everyday objects with an affinity for household items, tableware and furniture. I collaborate with international brands such as Emko, Paşabahçe, RigTig or Riva Brazilian Luxury to name a few. I design honest, beautiful, functional and emotional products that find a long lasting place in people’s life.

Interview with Pierre Foulonneau

Pierre Foulonneau ("PF") interviewed on Friday, 27 May.

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?

PF : I graduated in Industrial design at l'Ecole de Design Nantes Atlantique in 2003, so I've been in the industry for nearly 20 years. I spent close to a decade in Italy working alongside British designer George J Sowden, first in his design studio then as a key consultant in creating and developing his howeware brand SOWDEN. Later I worked with Cédric Bellon on horological project and went on to create SEKFORD Together with him and Kuchar Swara. Since 2019 I am fully concentrated on consulting, designing and developing project for clients of my own such as: Emko; Pasabahce; RigTig by Stelton or Riva Brazilian Luxury.

How did you become a designer?

PF : I was initially drawn to design because I like to draw. I soon realize this job was much more than that and I embraced it entirely! But basically it was when I realize I could have a job for with a serious part of fun and entertainment.

What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?

PF : It always start with pen and paper, to put down an intention that will act s a guideline for the project. Then development is carried out with keeping a good balance between all aspect of the design. Aesthetic feeds the technique and vice versa. I use computer willingly but only if it is relevant for the project. A physical model is always a must have, from quick and dirty early stage model to working prototype as the project progress through iteration loops.

Which emotions do you feel when designing?

PF : It puts a smile on my face. I'd say it is a mix of excitement and happiness when the idea sparks and when you feel on the right track. Development phase is enriching because you exchange with all the people involved in the process and sometimes frustrating because you have to make choices and maybe let go a little bit. Then when the project is finish you share joy with everyone involved. But what i like most is to see one of my creation that has found a place in someone's life, serving its purpose daily. It is incredibly fulfilling. Sometime also research and experimentation can be relentless when yo discover a new path that you want to explore, then you enter another space and time!

What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?

PF : As a background I think like any boy of my generation I was fed with car bodywork and hours of intense Lego creative sessions. I also spent time watching my dad's in his workshop and later tried to emulate him attempting to build things on my own or to master how to use his tools.

What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?

PF : I am trying to expand in the furniture field and I will pursue in the next years. Also an objective is to open more collaboration with local companies another is to have a bigger impact as a designer and design things that are more and more durable and as virtuous as possible.

What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?

PF : Be curious, stay curious. MAKE things with your hands. Dare to dream, trust your ideas and show yourself out!

You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?

PF : Always have great respect for the people that makes or build your designs, and learn from them.

What is your day to day look like?

PF : I rarely have twice the same day! The only real routine is to account and stay flexible for unexpected events. Also I try to find moments to read or browse books.

How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?

PF : I don't pay too much attention to design trends. Trends for me has a sense of ephemerality that I dislike. I prefer durability and timelessness to which I will incorporate up to date elements (material, finishes, colors...) if I find them relevant. I find it more interesting to look for society's behavior shifts, these are far more useful indications for what to design next.

How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?

PF : Do I understand what it is and its function ? Is it aesthetically pleasing ? Does it fulfill its purpose well ? Is t desirable ?

How do you decide if your design is ready?

PF : I stop when I feel we carefully considered all aspects and details of the product and shaved off all the superfluous.

What is your biggest design work?

PF : One very significant work in my career was when I co-founded the watch brand SEKFORD together with Cédric Bellon and Kuchar Swara. The whole project was a step into entrepreneurship and offered me the opportunity to experience global design and implement it on the whole company’s ecosystem through products, graphics, communication, brand identity, product identity and strategy. It also gave me a practical awareness for various companies’ problematic beyond design.

Who is your favourite designer?

PF : I like the poetry and sensitivity of Tapio Wirkkala, the elegance and playfulness of Achille Castiglioni and the rigorous but sensitive approach of Konstantin Grcic. Of course the work of Dieter Rams in is ensemble is very inspiring.

Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?

PF : I work alone most of the time but I assemble a team if needed. I consider my clients as business parters and I like if we have some common grounds or carry the same valours. I believe in teamwork and honest exchange to “build” a project and bring it to the next level.

What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?

PF : I try to contribute to society through being a lecturer at L'Ecole de Design Nantes Atlantique, I think it is important to be committed to the younger generation. Pass on some tricks of the trade, help them gain confidence, so they can be as ready as possible to face the challenges of their generation.

Pierre Foulonneau Profile

Leaf Tall Vase

Leaf Tall Vase design by Pierre Foulonneau


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