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Interview with Thierry Michel Rosset

Home > Designer Interviews > Thierry Michel Rosset

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Thierry Michel Rosset (TR) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Thierry Michel Rosset by clicking here.

Interview with Thierry Michel Rosset at Monday 28th of April 2014
Thierry Michel Rosset
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
TR: Actually, it is my instinct for survival that led me to the artistic world with a total reconversion 20 years ago from being an international auditor to artistic glass work. It is clear then that my deepest desire has always been to do a handicraft which would allow me to give free rein to my imagination and which is oriented towards construction. As a child, I loved playing Lego! As for my entrance into the world of design, it happened completely by chance exactly a year ago. Working exclusively on the quality of wax models, using the lost wax technique to make casts in glass, all my works are permanently on my work bench which is inside the entrance to the house. A friend who passed my models encouraged me to consider the possibilities offered today by 3D printing. It is indeed a very practical way to make prototypes and was worth investigating. I therefore became interested in the principle and started to design my models using 3D open source software. It was then by wrong manipulation or some other error in mastering the 3D patterns, that all the possibilities for declining in furniture the initial sculpture, which is the origin of my “ligne Guff”, presented at the “Now le Off”, stand devoted to new designers in the Paris Design Week 2013 setting.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
TR: When you have a chance to do business with your own products, you need to create a company. This is what I did last year with my first design products of the “ligne Guff”. With this I accidentally entered the design world but I do not want to devote my company exclusively in this domain. The main point of Olution Sàrl is to focus on any projects whose central point is the strength of conviction of the project’s creator. Moreover, this conviction has to be shared by all the people who will be involved in any branch and at any stage in the realization of the project. In fact, it is the enthusiasm of all the necessary contributors in investing in the project which will decide on going further

FS: What is "design" for you?
TR: For me it is the extra “spirit” that one uses to create an object, even if very often I find that certain achievements totally lack “spririt” because of their excessive coldness, aggressivity or lack of comfort.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
TR: At the moment I don’t have any preference. I start either with a line and let myself be guided or with an objective which ends up being diverted on occasions by the discovery of a line... precisely.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
TR: I don’t have a favorite design. I prefer skimming through styles, soaking up the atmosphere. It is the same thing with music. I will hum a tune but will be incapable of saying who the singer is and especially what he is talking about. I never listen to the words; it is the melody which moves me, the atmosphere. It is the same for the arts and design in general. However, as I come from a “glass” background, I can mention some artists in glass that I appreciate particularly like Gabriel Argy-Rousseau and in a more contemporary fashion, Tessa Clegg and Philip Baldwin. The latter’s work is sobre and in very reliable taste. In addition the lines are there! So, inevitably, that speaks to me a lot.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
TR: Nothing at the moment.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
TR: I am completely captivated by wax. In fact I rarely design but I make models out of wax. Wax enables to make any kind of models with the advantage of its physical qualities. It highly contributes itself in the decision when to stop. The drawback of its primary quality is that it goes beyond the possibilities of real construction with which one is confronted, which can challenge the whole project.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
TR: On reflection, I do not think there are periods which are more creative than others. In fact, I am permanently in creative mode whatever I do and wherever I am. Clearly it is when a design or piece of sculpture succeeds that one feels the most creative but this result come from a progression, from work behind the scenes.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
TR: My well being! Actually, I work very little with a pre-conceived idea. I have a vague intuition of a line, or if I have not, I look for it. It is essentially my feeling which guides me. It is mainly the feeling of child-like joy which convinces me that I am going in the right direction. Actually, I enjoy myself, I experience pleasure, I am amazed, I am liberated, and I am thus deeply connected to life which is pure happiness. I love this sensation and that is what I look for to share with the project’s participants and eventually with the purchaser of the product.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
TR: Happiness! I am on the right path.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
TR: First of all I am amazed by the quality of the product’s finish. The product is equivalent to what one finds in the shops. For me, this is very new. Actually, working with glass, the objective was to perform all the stages for the production myself, and as it is very difficult to master everything as an autodidact, the finished product is not perfect... and I am a perfectionist! In furniture design one is working on another scale with other constraints and there one must be surrounded by professionals for each construction speciality. One can then obtain the level of perfection that is necessary. Then I am assailed by doubt. Will the product please as much as it pleases me. In fact, I only work with ideas which capture my heart and only produce a product if it impresses me. The “ligne Guff” exists only because I thought it would be a great pity if it did not exist. But is that the design world’s opinion, the public’s opinion? I am only concerned with pleasing myself today, just as I did everything to please others in the past... it’s a big risk but the result seems much more convincing.

FS: What makes a design successful?
TR: If only one knew... However, I think that the old saying “to be in the right place at the right time” resumes the conditions for success of every product, whatever it is. Success is the public’s recognition which is measured by turnover when all is said and done. Here we touch on all the complexity of highlighting a product so that it has its own life and we are no longer in the primary activity of the designer. Is not it said that success derives from 20% of the product and 80% of the marketing? Otherwise, as far as what concerns intrinsically product design, I think that the measure of success exists in the timelessness of the design itself and its capacity to create empathy.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
TR: Judging requires intellect. This channel of interaction does not have priority for me. In fact, I base my opinion on my feeling facing the object. Either I am comfortable with it or not. Then, I analyse the intrinsic qualities of the product which made me feel good. In the opposite case, I am on my way.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
TR: First of all, I think there are different types of designer. Once again, I am new to this field and I have not yet had the time to investigate this facet of the activity, all the more so because, when all is said and done, it odes not interest me much. Nevertheless, to simplify, I think that there are “industrial” designers and “freelance” designers. The activity of the former is directed mainly towards maximum optimisation of the consumption of the products that they design. At the moment they are employed by industrial, commercial companies which have social and environmental responsibilities. As for the latter, there are many different types, but for me, they can play a real, fundamental role on a social and environmental level. Actually, from my personal experience as a designer, I believe that the designer sees the world around us more through his senses than through the logic or rationalism which have been inculcated and developed in us from early childhood. In that, this type of designer remains in close contact with the sensitive world from which we are disconnected day after day while being over connected in immateriality and the virtual world. As a result this designer remains in contact with our real nature and can favour our reconnection with ourselves. If I am given the opportunity to continue in the field of design, it is with this aim that I will conduct my work.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
TR: Once again, I do not know anything about that. I am not in the milieu. I have recently had the opportunity to read a dossier devoted entirely to design in a publication of Pro Helvetia, a Swiss cultural foundation, and I did not understand any thing at all! Once again, we intellectualise the field with theories and theories. We will probably reach the same result with design as with the public’s perception vis-à-vis contemporary art today...not great.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
TR: My last exhibition was at the Geneva Design Days 2013. I do not have a clue as to when my next one will be, at the moment.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
TR: Every moment, whatever I do or wherever I am, my eye is looking for a line. So inspiration can come from anywhere at any time. I feed my creativity with my permanent search for a line. As I breathe, I am searching for lines.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
TR: My style is extremely classical. But I follow it and appreciate it. It is fortunate seeing that my work is not to make products that will please but products that will please me. My goal is to fulfill myself above all. It is to live fully who I am. If it is risky it is there that lies all the interest in my work process all the more for the repercussion that my work could have in the future on the level of social and environmental responsibility. Moreover, the timeless character of my design projects is very important to me and I do not appreciate the effects of fashion at all. This can distort a line which is magnificent initially under cover of redeveloping it solely to appeal to consumers. A good design is sufficient in itself and will continue to be over time.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
TR: I live in Geneva. I do not think that I am influenced by the cultural or other heritage of the place where I live. On the other hand, I am very sensitive to the private surroundings in which I live. Actually, being a kinesthetic person, I am very sensitive to my close environment and it is true that to live in surroundings which I find pleasant, allow me to perform every activity more easily. I am fortunate that that is the case now.

FS: How do you work with companies?
TR: I have not had that experience yet.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
TR: As a beginner, I could receive such suggestions rather than give them. In the furniture design and decorative arts domain, it seems to me that companies are more interested in good designs rather than good designers.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
TR: As I said earlier, I am constantly looking for a line or a beginning of a line. If I do not have one, I search for it by working with wax. That relaxes me and from time to time inspires me. Once the line is defined, I draw it using 3D design software and focus on it. If the project excites me, I check worriedly on the Internet that the design has not been created. If not, then I search for the materials to use, the trade associations to seek and I start off.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
TR: In fact, I do not have any “design” object at home. However, I like to create a soulful atmosphere in the house and I like to mix styles.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
TR: I am fortunate to have a part-time job. So in the morning I feed my soul, working with wax, and in the afternoon I feed my stomach by earning my living.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
TR: Certainly not, being more than a beginner myself. I would read interviews with my colleagues and real designers on this subject. As for giving advice to the young, I think that things have changed so much these last few years that it is more the young who can give advice to the “old”. As for wisdom, I am not sure that it has its place in design.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
TR: I will not speak about good and bad aspects. I would prefer to speak about what design brings and at what cost. As a beginner it costs me more than it brings, obviously. In return for the pleasure in creating that it brings me, the costs are not negligible: time, money, stress, risk taking, doubt, and that’s not all. Exactly as in “life” finally. One adapts.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
TR: I do not have one. That would limit me.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
TR: Probably a knowledge of the materials and production methods. Here I have absolutely everything to learn.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
TR: Wax and 3D design softwares

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
TR: As I have already said, I devote every weekday morning to it, except Friday, the day for housework. This activity is interesting for letting the mind wander... and it is the opportunity to take a break from design. My aim is to devote as much time as possible to design for I feel really well doing and it really enjoy myself. At the research stage, I don’t worry about time passing. Everything changes the moment I decide on the design and I attack its actual realisation. And there, time becomes an enemy! It is a continual battle trying to manage it best. These moments are exciting but somewhat exhausting.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
TR: It takes an interminable amount of time... for that includes the period of research for inspiration. That does not come everyday and you have to seize it when it comes! Then the duration depends on the complexity of the object and the technical difficulties that arise. The process for designing an object takes at least months. I was most astonished to complete the “bibili” in almost 3 months. This relatively short period is due to the fact that inspiration came very quickly this time. What took the most time was the search for materials.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
TR: Those in this interview. However, I was asked one disconcerting question regarding my previous design, the “ligne Guff”. “How come nobody has designed this before you?” At first, I didn’t know how to reply but finally, I found the answer: “in fact, I didn’t design it but I modelled it”. Indeed, I wouldn’t have been able to draw it without having it in front of me.

FS: What was your most important job experience?
TR: That that I am doing now. That is creating myself and trying to live by it.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
TR: None at the moment.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
TR: Simple and timeless design. Probably because of my taste for classicism.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
TR: My future in design is to start to energise economically speaking. In fact, after two attempts which were convincing on the level of recognition of my work, it must be said that this activity consumes not only time but also money. I have reached a point where a return on my investment is vital. Essentially the next episode depends on that.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
TR: I develop the design myself but subcontract its realisation. It is a revolution for me in the sense that I did everything myself in the glass work. My recent design experience has made me realise that it is better to use one’s talent at the stage where it is convincing rather than dilute it in the whole process. However, clearly subcontracting the realisation of the object necessitates attentive and continuous supervision at different stages.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
TR: At this point, where I am today, future projects depend on the success of the previous ones...so, I have my fingers crossed.

FS: How can people contact you?
TR: By the email address of Olution: olution70@gmail.com

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
TR: No


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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