In a world too busy to stop, award-winning Paris-based industrial designer Patrick Norguet creates furniture that is a clear « invitation to sit ».
He has designed scenography for the biggest names in fashion. His biography is peppered with the mention of legendary fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, Guerlain and Lanvin. With such a list, the fashion industry could have been the way to go for Paris-based designer Patrick Norguet. Instead, he has increasingly chosen to focus on his first love – industrial design.
Patrick Norguet graduated from ENSCI in Paris and went to work with Louis Vuitton, as in-charge of their visual communication. Between 1998 and 2000, his major work was with the topmost of fashion houses. In 2000, Norguet went solo and founded his own design studio. This was the year that he also designed his first iconic chair – The Rainbow Chair – for Cappellini. Made from acrylic resin, the colourful chair gained cult-status overnight and filled the gap between fashion and product design.
In the next few years, Norguet continued to notch up his furniture design. In 2001, he designed the Rive Droite chairs and sofas for Cappellini, with Emilio Pucci fabrics. The following year, he created the ‘Apollo’ armchair for Artifort. The Apollo is a dramatic armchair in green that reminds one of a four-leaf clover.
The Artifort website describes it as “almost a calligraphic symbol.” Apollo has a “baby brother” called Little Apollo (2003), which is a version for the dining room. A new version of Little Apollo was revealed in 2010 with minor tweaks given to the shape, for extra comfort.
While continuing to do scenography for fashion and jewellery houses such as Van Cleef and Arpels and Givenchy, Norguet created more furniture lines, household silver objects (De Vecchi, Milan, 2002), a collection of lamps for Tronconi and a carpet collection for Pantone carpets.
In 2004, he designed the Orly sofa for Berhardt, in a “colourful, curvaceous and modern” design that reflects his background in fashion. The simple, almost severe design (that loses its strictness thanks to the fun colours it comes in) has little use for ornamentation. The backrest and seat are simple shapes inspired by building blocks.
The idea of creating comfortable seating in unusual design has continued to inspire Norguet over the years. The Lilla, for example, is a one-of-a-kind object that is inspired by a tree trunk. Is it a stool? Is it a chair? No – It is “an invitation to sit!”
This invitation continues with more stunning designs such as the Looks Flesh chairs (2006, Artifort), the beautiful Rhea Armchair (2007), the Rest chair (2008, Fasem), the Wing Sofa (2009, Fasem), Lear Sofa (2009, Modus), the Scratch armchair (2009, Cappellini), the Mak stool (2012, LaPalma), the Degree table (2012,Kristalia) which also offers storage and the graceful ‘Jacket’ sofa (2012,Tacchini).
In recent years, Norguet’s designs have taken an experimental edge, due to the increase in use of contemporary and innovative materials. In 2010, he designed the ‘Glass Table’ for Glas Italia. This table was created entirely out of glass. The table legs are slabs of glass reclining at an angle and the top rests on these slabs. In the same range, ‘Float’ is a chest of drawers also made of glass; this is available in various shades of lacquered glass to suit your interiors.
Norguet has recently collaborated with McDonald’s for various projects including a new design for its restaurants in France, where he will design coffee cups and outdoor furniture. The new architectural identity brief was “getting back to the roots” – an attempt for the brand to regain its erstwhile image of family-based fast food dining instead of being a mere teenage hangout. Norguet expressed this with a “white palette and bold accents including McDonald’s signature red and yellow”. A nod to new technology shows up in the digital terminals that are close to the tables and which allow diners to order the food and then have it served directly to them.
Norguet’s ‘Still’ chair is used in these restaurants, with a high-chair version available for little customers. A new ceramic floor design (2 metre ceramic slabs that look like a carpet) is also incorporated into the design. Six new restaurants are currently being designed throughout France.
Norguet’s elegant designs continue to be not just useful, but these also display just the right touches of French elegance and beauty. The invitation to slow down and admire a beautiful piece of furniture and indeed to just sit on it for a while might just make that trip to a fast-food restaurant more worthwhile.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy Patrick Norguet