Maison et Objet 2021 wrapped up its fall show last month. When the next iteration takes place in January 2022, Gregory Lacoua will take center stage, as he has just been awarded the Grand Prix de la Création de la Ville de Paris. Because we were not able to attend this past fall, we thought we’d take a look forward to highlight this visionary designer and artisan who will have some big shoes to fill, though he’s certainly primed to do so. The jury for the Grand Prix selects winners based on the quality of their approach, the development strategies they adopt, their desire to perpetuate expertise, and their sense of innovation. What motivates this design savant? Delving deep into artisan traditions to help propel them forward into the future. This is a subject about which we at Design Diary are also passionate.
Gregory Lacoua In Focus
Lacoua began honing his upholstery and saddlery skills from a very young age, initially obtaining a vocational proficiency certificate (CAP – Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnelle) and then securing a place at the École Boulle, which eventually earned him a position at contemporary furnishings manufacturer Domeau&Pérès. The experience of working on prototypes for some of the design world’s biggest names, such as the Bouroullec brothers, Matali Crasset and Christophe Pillet, opened the young artisan’s eyes to the overall creative process and encouraged him to spread his wings. At just 24, he handed in his notice and was accepted at the prestigious French National Institute for Advanced Studies in Industrial Design (ENSCI-Les Ateliers). Before long, he launched his own design agency, Studio Lacoua.
Lacoua grew up in a family who loved canvasing flea markets for treasures. He was still quite young when he was shown how to dismantle and restore objects with an eye to retaining the full beauty of the original. It is a future-focused philosophy that continues to shape his creative thought process to this day. “It’s only natural to ask ourselves what will become of our work,” he explains. “We leave a legacy, a mark, a message.” Sustainable development is a subject he finds particularly resonant, as he believes useful and smart objects need to be made of sustainable materials so that some can be handed down through the generations while others are recycled and transformed. He celectates the opportunity to work with noble materials, and tries to avoid using materials that emit CO2.
Lacoua believes the subject of sustainability helps us learn from the past and gives everyday objects a sense of meaning. In 2007, he attracted the spotlight by designing an extraordinary rug-stool for Ligne Roset. When opened up, it is completely flat; when closed, it becomes a stool. “This design was intended to hold up a mirror to the history and etymology of the word tabouret (stool, in French), which started out as a “tabour,” a stand on which an embroidery hoop is placed.” The morphing of this design is illustrated in the photos above.
Gregory Lacoua has just finished designing his first collection for Souchet | Inspired Woodwork in collaboration with the company’s general manager, Nicolas Souchet, who is a maker himself. The two met while attending the École Boulle. Souchet has taken over the reins of a highly traditional cabinetry workshop in eastern France, which he is now striving to bring into the 21st century. Their inaugural collection blends the very best of digital technology with the subtlety of working by hand. It is a veritable manifesto for craftsmanship of the future.
Lacoua says he is convinced that the craftsmen who were around during Louis XVI’s reign would have loved getting their hands on a digital planer. Can you imagine the glee they would feel! Among the products Lacoua has designed in collaboration with Souchet so far is Spin, which is shown above (far right). It’s a bistro-style table with intertwined wooden legs that spin. We can’t wait to see how Lacoua presents his philosophies and talents during the next show in January. Stay tuned as we learn more!