These materials that always inspire designers

By Litza Georgopoulos

Posted today at 6:30 a.m.

Blown glass used to form a champagne bucket by La Romaine Éditions.

Linen, cork, terracotta, wool, stone or glass… The list looks like a Prévert inventory. These materials may have nothing new, they are now experiencing a revival. To consult the novelties of decoration brands, to study the projects of the most cutting-edge designers, even to delve into specialized magazines or student projects, it’s hard not to notice that they obsess the world of design.

Thus the success of specialized events, such as AD Matières d’art (organized by the magazine specialized in decoration AD) or the Fair (e), dedicated to little-known or forgotten know-how. More than ever, we hear about workshops that cut stone, marble in all colors. Ancestral techniques are used to design very contemporary furniture. The wood is burned using an ancient Japanese process. The smooth leather is vegetable tanned.

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The publisher and manufacturer of upholstery fabrics Pierre Frey says that, today, his “Clients, decorators, architects touch the materials even more, some even bring the fabric close to their cheeks. Softness has become essential. In this sense, there is a strong demand from furniture manufacturers for terry wool, a weaving fashionable in the 1970s. By hand, this relief of the fabric gives a depth that is somewhat reminiscent of a sheep’s fleece. “

Technical progress

“Bringing a new perception of materials, provoking emotion through the material”, this is the wish of David Giroire, press officer and co-founder of Théorème Éditions, who invites creators to develop unique projects. For the second collection, he says he wants to explore hemp and is interested in the papier-mâché technique developed by Paper Factor, the Italian workshop that modeled the Sillage armchair – an imposing seat that looks like a tribal sculpture, presented in September at the Furniture Fair by Hermès. A poor material, here ennobled.

This obsession seems very new. As if the recent history of design, and especially its golden age, in the second part of the twentiethe century, had not known this, the appearance of an object having prevailed over the matter of which it was made. However, “The material has always held an important place in the history of design”, says Dominique Forest, chief curator of the modern and contemporary department of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris.

“Plastics, foams, jersey have given rise to a whole typology of new shapes. »Dominique Forest, from the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris

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