When we strolled into Paris’ Centre Pompidou to walk through Patrick Jouin’s exhibition with the talented designer in 2010, we had no idea what to expect. The slim, handsome man was standing with a group of professionals, his dapper clothes contrasting the motorcycle helmet casually slung over his forearm. This pretty much summed up the paradox we would find throughout the exhibition Patrick Jouin: La Substance du Design.
Patrick Jouin – La Substance du Design
The expansive ensemble of products made the room read like a dynamic design studio with floor to ceiling grids holding sketches and computer drawings, and shadow boxes filled with prototypes and tiny models of products and projects. The array of ideas illustrated a lively imagination with an exhaustive flair for specificity. “I see design as a mix of poetics and technology,” Jouin remarked. “The devil is in every project and the trick is to find where he is hiding so we can make him pop out!”
It took the designer six months to curate the exhibition, which he says was an honor. He’s inspired by all periods of design—saying it is truly impossible to isolate any one influential age. “I am inspired by so many different things and I never know when an idea will come,” he explained, pointing to one of numerous sketchbooks tucked into a backlit niche. “I fill these routinely with sketches that are then refined and presented to clients.” When I asked him whether he always has a sketchpad with him, the designer remarked, “Yes, there is one in a compartment of my motorbike now!”
Jouin loves to collaborate with clients but he’s very specific about the way he works with such avant-garde manufacturers as Alessi, MGX by Materialise, Cassina, and Kartell. “I only present each client with one option when the design process is complete,” he said. “Design is a choice and, though the client is involved in the process, there is a clear decision to be made in the end.”
The designer is responsible for some of the world’s most luxuriant interiors, including the Le Jules Verne restaurant at the Eiffel Tower; the Gilt Bar and Restaurant at the New York Palace Hotel; and the Restaurant et Horloge, an Alain Ducasse restaurant at the Plaza Athénée in Paris. He also designed the Van Cleef and Arpels salon on the famed Place Vendôme. But of particular excitement for Jouin when we interviewed him was The Swatch Art Peace Hotel he designed in Shanghai, China, for the Swatch Group. At the time we first spoke with him, we made note that the visionary’s star was definitely on the rise. This turns out to be quite true, and it has continued to skyrocket since our interview in 2010.
This posts for Design Diary was written by Saxon Henry.