Everyday beauty by Normal Studio - creators of the Woody basket
When they joined forces in 2006, Jean François Dingjian and Eloi Chafaï decided to get rid of their respective surnames, which were deemed too ‘complicated’, and be known together as Normal Studio. This name may not have been conceived primarily to inspire dreams, but it has a lot more to it than first meets the eye.
NORMAL BUT NOT BANAL...
The proof: 10 years after setting out, the pair can congratulate them- selves for having received numerous awards and accolades. Holder of the title of Designer of the Year 2010 at Maison&Objet’s Now! salon, of the Elle Deco Design Award and of several VIA labels, Normal Studio has also had the satisfaction of seeing some of its products enter into the collections of great national museums. Yet they proclaim loud and clear, ‘We’re not trying to stand out.’ However, this studied normality stands out in itself. From the early days of their professional association, Jean François, a project director at ENSCI (the École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle), and Eloi, still a student at the time, quickly discovered their strong common taste for industrial and mass-produced design. ‘I don’t consider myself an artist.
« I don't consider myself an artist, I like to work within constraints »
freely admits Jean François. ‘The designer’s work finds its meaning in mass- production’, reinforces Eloi.
Tolix, Seb, Schneider Electrics: the duo started out in notable collaborations with large industrial firms, even though they now flourish just as much in interior design, museography, small- scale products and even gallery work. This diversification of activities has not however impinged on their founding goal of making products and pro- jects that are as elementary as possible. ‘A few years ago, there was an exhibition of our work at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and at the time it was written that we draw with a rubber.’ But whatever anyone says, NORMAL STUDIO is not about exercises in style and aims to free itself from superfluous elements in order to dedicate itself to the essential. The object’s function, usability and above all its means of manufacture are regarded as the essential elements in its creation. It’s these more than anything else that the designer has to translate in creating the object itself. For instance, at Tolix – the artistic direction of which the studio took over for seven years, in doing so contributing to its renaissance – it was a case of designing and commissioning products that pay homage to the firm’s historic working of sheet metal while fitting in with a very contemporary but gentle vision appealing to the widest possible audience.
NORMAL MEANS ACCESSIBLE :
The idea of accessibility is part and parcel of the normality claimed by the duo, whose work is also characterised by its great legibility. Allowing the consumer to easily get to grips with the technically advanced Tefal pressure cooker by using, among other things, colours to code the moving parts and make its use instinctual; or guaranteeing clearer and more poetic access to those new to the 2000m2 circuit of the permanent collections of Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs... If the Studio doesn’t want to ‘stand out’, it certainly transcends the ordinary with assurance and diligence
NORMAL AND PRECIOUS :
« Design is above all a visual art. The challenge is therefore always to create something visually strong »
stress the pair who, ultimately, bring out the beautiful in the ‘normal’. This studio may not be focused on the decorative, but it doesn’t deny itself ornamentation where it makes sense, whether that be to enhance the most everyday of accessories – as is the case with the Mimic slanted mirror by Muuto, inspired by the hand-held mirrors traditionally seen in Parisian barbers’ shops – or to pay homage to a manufacturing process as with the motif of the terracotta fruit basket, obtained through the sanded woo- den mould leaving its imprint on the terracotta. Created by natural wood grain, which gives it its shape, the latter as a vessel is an eloquent example of the everyday beauty that NORMAL STUDIO wants to bear witness to...
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