Parisian product designer Jean Couvreur creates objects that are not only practical but are also incredibly elegant. These are made with a combination of a clear focus on craftsmanship and the use of apt materials.
The late co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, once said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works,” Jobs was an inventor and a designer as well, so he knew what he was talking about. Parisian designer Jean Couvreur also speaks the same language. The 35-year-old designer creates products that not only have a sleek and minimalistic shape to them, but are also independently useful and practical at the same time, with a focus on craftsmanship, materials and the utility of the object.
Take for instance his designs for lamps. The Pagode is a ceiling lamp that looks like a traditional lamp. This suspension lamp, however, is made from Plastazote (originally used in orthopaedics) which heats easily and spreads the light in an even and brilliant fashion.
The Girafe desk lamp with its cute feet and stretched-out neck reminds you of your favourite tall animal. The design was a result of research on the structural properties of leather. Interestingly, the leather remains rigid and thus needs no internal structure to stay upright.
The limited edition Photochrome suspension lamp is an unusual design as well and reminds one of clothes drying on a line. The glass sheets drape on a fluorescent tube, much like clothes on a line, and give out an interesting effect when lit. Photochrome table lamps have similar designs with the coloured glass adding a sense of mystery to your desk.
Couvreur’s designs for furniture include seating and accessories for home and public use. The Judo bench is a fantastic example of a minimalist, multi-use design. The unadorned chestnut bench has three pieces that fold in or open out in one fluid movement. When open, the bench appears to be made of solid wood and one would never guess that it folds so seamlessly.
The Linette coffee or pedestal table reminds me of two giant buttons held up by wooden sticks. The pretty pastel wooden disks are superimposed and held together by three slanted rods which double up as legs. The two levels are excellent space-savers and are perfect for multiple uses around the home as a display and storage accessory.
The Desserte Cricket stand on the other hand, has several trays of varying sizes balancing on one leg. This even works well as a side-table or even a bedside table making sure you’ll always have enough place for your paraphernalia and still make it look uncluttered.
The sense of expansiveness and white space carries over into a new design for a bench called Banc Frais. At first glance, this looks like a public sculpture, a smooth expanse of white concrete with a small little pond in the middle. The inbuilt water pump holds 300 litres of water and is a contemporary replacement for town centre fountains and gathering places. The usage of concrete as the material brings to the fore the pure expression of the material and its porosity helps retain the freshness of the water. Banc Frais aims to encourage spontaneous uses such as gatherings around the village fountain.
Similar attention to detail has been paid to the Aberlour Wood Essence Box, designed for SoWine containing three single malts and a tasting tray. The wooden ‘box’ is more like a designer handbag and the grain of the wood gives you an idea of the quality of the products inside – well aged and warm.
Also for the home is Pantin, a trivet made from beech, copper and elastic cord. The simple yet unexpectedly elegant design allows the trivet to be laid out in different shapes or unfolded to create a long length. The colour and hint of copper at one end elevate it to an item of a luxurious necessity for your kitchen or dining table.
The Fauteuil Sonore is a departure from Couvreur’s usual designs. This interactive device incorporates a touch screen and sound system and was commissioned by Musée de l’Homme. This intriguing piece of furniture isolates the visitor from the general background and ambient noise in a museum. Using colourful wool felt and a built-in sound system with four speakers, a special acoustic is created that wraps the viewer into a cocooned space. Three people can be accommodated on the bench placed inside but passers-by can also view the screen without disturbing the ones inside the cocoon. Visitors to the museum can take a welcome break in the Fauteuil Sonore and soak in some new stories while they catch their breath.
Couvreur’s elegant and experimental designs have led to accolades and commissions from reputed design firms and museums. His creative designs, his craftsmanship and the choice of materials tend to showcase the very essence of the objects. Whether it is a lamp or a comfortable perch to sit on, you can trust Couvreur’s designs to get it right and make it good.
Text By ChryselleD’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy The Designer