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Interview with Patrick Sarran

Home > Designer Interviews > Patrick Sarran

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

Interview with Patrick Sarran at Friday 21st of October 2016
Patrick Sarran
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?
PS: As a child, I lived in the countryside. I spent all my free time in a workshop owned by the only craftsman in my village. I was fascinated by this man. He had a strong character, making doors, barrels, buckets, coffins, planks and stakes for the vine, a blacksmith as well, forging plowshares for the farmers. Was he some kind of designer? I was rather solitary. At home, I made myself toys with wood, a pocket knife, nails and string. At a more mature age I became interested in scientific games, chemistry and electronics. Later I studied engineering sciences in high school. I stopped it in 1972, and I became a cabinet maker by working with different manufactures techniques. I founded my own workshop in 1976 and since 1983 I have been working on my own furniture style. I consider myself as a self-taught designer since the early 90s.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
PS: I work and live in Toulouse. I use my workshop to create and manufacture in low scale production, pieces of furniture for QUISO the self editing house I founded in 2007. QUISO sell worldwide to the high-end users, fine gourmet restaurants.

FS: What is "design" for you?
PS: Design is a discipline in the field of the shape, whose goal is to create new objects or processes in response to human needs. It belongs booth to the world of art and industry including the cottage industry, searching at the same time for usefulness and beauty. The pioneer, Luis Sullivan, said « Form follows function ». I fully agree with this formula, considering beauty also a function. This has always hurt me when I look at the production of living nature. Wild Animals and plants produce beauty. Colors flowers, bright sets for love of the birds, insects, fishes are essential for their reproduction. Beauty is necessary to imagine a futur for humanity. If some natural shapes are designed for the desire, others are sculpted by elements. Wind, waves, the tide and gravity are in a sense a source of my inspiration

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
PS: Simple objects, wood, metal, mechanisms and electricals with particular functions. People that work around problems are as equally evolved in the design process. You have to know how to listen. I feel a lot more confortable creating for a person rather than a market. Never the less in time the needs expressed by the client represent segments of the market in which are just as niche or even micro niche to invest in.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
PS: The Favela Chair 1991 by Humberto et Fernando Campana. This armchair is made of little bits of recuperated wood, nailed together. The final piece is a very regular and elegant Throne and a positive symbol made for Favelas. It is a proud and warm vernacular design from Brazil.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
PS: A Chair for ART+DESIGN editor in Toulouse in 1990.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
PS: I like natural materials, woods, leathers, metals etc… In design I use Apple, but excellent software used for 3D rendering are only available exclusively on PC. My favorite technologie? If there was only one, I would have to choose working with my hands with a sharp steel blade to be honest. If you were to find yourself in a survival situation, this i’m sure would be the more favorable tool compared to say, a 3D printer don`t you think? It is important to cultivate these manuel skills. If we were to talk about a number of technologies. I could talk about every one I came by throughout my entire life. Manuel and new techniques are complementary. Modern tools in the digital world enable us to have the precision and dexterity required to accomplish the needs of a niche market user.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
PS: I feel most creative early in the morning in my bed after fully considering for days on end every aspect of a new product under design. After rendering the design the 3D model loops around my head and the ideas to come on their own.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
PS: First you have to question the functions. I analyse all the interactions involved. I design my first ideas on a 3D software, and test it with real material in my workshop. Then I improve and simplify.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
PS: At the beginning, I feel nervous. During the analysis I get anxious wether or not I will be able to find a solution. When the first ideas become, I feel excited. I sleep well but I wake up early. I feel very creative in my half sleep.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
PS: When I present the design to the public for the first time, this moment is precious. Its here when we know wether the product is successful or not. A lot of the time these presentations involve a number of corrections to apply to existing functionalities. As soon as the design comes to life, I detach myself and concentrate on the production the best I can.

FS: What makes a design successful?
PS: Its like a chain, if one element isn’t consistant with the other, its main function would be compromised. A good design, responds to all aspects of the brief, taking into account the number of interactions this product may encounter. The buyer, the end user, journalist, manufacturers, jugement of peers, prescribers, distributors, mode of transport and even the repairer. It is also always better to remain consistant with a quality ranging from average to good rather than excellente for some and below average for others.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
PS: Is it new? Is it an honest answer to a well asked question? Is it well adapted to the problem in question? Is it beautiful? Does it give me a positive emotion?

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
PS: In the 20th century, the working devision destroyed individuel responsibility. Now in the 21st century we need to take an act of humanity towards each other and develop a higher respect for this earth thats feed us. Designers are creating goods and scenarios for the future. Does designing weapons make sense? Is it legitimate, to except in a certain cases, to use a rare natural resource when other solutions deem more appropriate? What is the impact of our connected consumer goods to environment? How do we value our wastefulness? These ethical questions are extremely important to understand as a designer.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
PS: Design was born in Europe during the last two world wars, at the confluence of art and crafts with the Bauhaus and modernism. After the last world war it became industrial to answer the needs of reconstruction by the mass production. It has been attached to the publicity and marketing for so long. Now, in the beginning of the 21 century many things are radically changing. Worldwide social networks become more and more important than local mass medias. Some designers are moving away from marketing. New industrial processes promise to develop unit scale productions. Many people in the world have still handmade know how, and will gain access to universal knowledge thanks to the internet. Design has become very precise thanks to 3D software programing, taking into account various aspects such as weight, material economy, resistance and human interaction. Virtual models help to precisely draw plans that can be easily shared with manufacturers from large distances. Almost absent during the last 30 years, cottage industry can be rolled over to the actual design. Design has become easier to apply to all types of production. In the field of software, design explores new worlds. Programming languages appear, others disappear. Pictures have become very important, as well as the translating engines also the creation of the universal language is becoming more and more of a reality. Designers are working with multimedia, photos, videos, holograms, sounds, hypertext etc… All these materials need to be organized in an assembled pleasing design in order to be played with, accompanied and also to learn from. But in the same time there are frightening threats towards humankind, politically, economically and ecologically. I think designers have to reaffirm original humanist values in response to the actual dangers. They have to get used to the considerable changes in the human interactions. Good design has to be clearheaded for the future and kind with the people. « Less is more. » as said by designer Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe in 1947.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
PS: I exhibit my whole production for QUISO every two years at Equip’hotel trade fair in Paris. The last one was in November 2014, the next 6-10 November 2016. I exhibited my ILOK table to LABEL VIA Paris September 2015, and will show my three A’Design Awarded products at the MOOD of Como 8-28 June 2016. The iLOK system has been laureate at "Observeur du Design" contest and will be exhibited at Paris, Saint Etienne, Bordeaux, Nantes, Toulouse, Marseille during the year 2017. The final winners will be known at the end of December 2016.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
PS: I used to find my inspiration in my background. But now the world of gourmet restaurants inspire me. Chefs are the new rock stars. They raised the kitchen to the rank of art for their dining rooms they call in interior designers. Like them I create, manufacture and sell directly to end users, while always striving to be responsive.

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?
PS: I like a good balance between nervous and curved lines. I like the fluidity of the shape, tensioned by the functions, curved by the main elements. I search to be efficient with style. In the past a tool was a piece of art, polish by the use. A plane was beautiful and useful too. In Japan people continue to make beautiful tools which they hold in high regard. This is a good example of what I try to do. But I’m not nostalgic. There are now better technics used than in the past for working with materials. I use laser cut iron pieces to assemble the wood. I don’t like mortises and tenons and prefer connectors and screws. I work with geometric shapes primitive squares, circles ellipses, simple volumes, discs, and round or squared boxes. There are occasionally strong colors with little shadowing. The elements are visible, the shapes are bold. The assembly of the base, crate and their legs is simple but not conventional.

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?
PS: I’m living France, the country of Arts Décoratifs as well as ‘Haute Cuisine’ traditions. Founding QUISO brand for gourmet restaurants I placed my design under these categories. The city of Toulouse where I have both my house and my workshop, is a dynamic and high tech place where airplanes and artificial satellites industry flourishes, a city with an important FabLab, where I have access to the best and new manufacturing technologies.

FS: How do you work with companies?
PS: For the last 8 years, I have worked exclusively for QUISO, except for a couple of individual projects and people that I keep close to heart. QUISO gave me the freedom to control all the aspects necessary to promote my designs.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
PS: First it’s question of feeling. Do you like his/her work? The designer will work well if he has confidence in you. Depending on the size of the company, its secteur, management, objectifs of development, the responses you get may will be very different. Write a bill of specifications, create of number of reasonable objectifs relating to the culture of your company and your know how. Dont ever wait on the designer, miracles will not take place without you.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
PS: A design project can be looked as a problem in need of a solution. I need an objectif, a starting point and contraints. The objectif is the first we take to the table, or foremost the personal research. The starting point, for example could be a clients idea, an idea floating around in the back of my head or an identification of an unsatisfied need. Some time may pass before I come up with an idea, its a very personal period for me to go through. A clic must happen between the design and me and when it does, ‘c’est magique’. 3D rendering takes a lot of time, piece by piece the design is drawn on the computer, and all the technical constraints are fixed. The visuel is placed on the Mac and the prototype is built simultaneously. Sometimes a technical detail take a long time to arise. It took me almost a year to finalize the design of the handle for the ‘Chariot KEZA’. Thankfully my editor, QUISO, was patient.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
PS: A lounge chair of Charles Eames / A boiler of Matteo Thun for WFM period Memphis / An ancient traditional design Japanese tea pot made of cast iron / My first design ‘La mère’, A red cabinet from 1982 / My kitchen table from 2001, in which I had the idea of its table legs, the ancestor of those with the ilOK system.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
PS: I’m working almost everyday from 8am to 8pm, managing my time in accordance with the needs of my two companies. On average I give three hours to the regulation of the production with my employees in my workshop, three hours to the management of QUISO and the relationships with my clients, three hours to design pieces of furniture or communication for QUISO, two hours to keep informed of actualities in the world, designs, technics and softwares. And one hour for a meal with my wife and a little siesta.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
PS: Cultivate your versatility. You have a unique opportunity, one which is a first in history. This decade has allowed you have immediate access to universal knowledge. Be complete, work with your mind as well as your hands. Familiarise yourself with materials, become a maker. Be wary of the evidence and learn as much as you can from the old-timers while the are still around.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
PS: There are different ways to be a designer. The one I chose has been solitary, it matches to my introvert personality. Designing pieces of furniture allowed me to express myself. Succeeding with a design is flattering to say the least. Its a long and hard road and success is never guaranteed, But today I am very proud to be able to say that I posses three A’design Awards.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
PS: Learn all he time, trust in yourself and keep your feet on the earth.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
PS: Intellectual curiosity, creativity, spacial sight, capacity to express ideas by drawing, capacity to reassess himself.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
PS: In my toolbox there are many things: Pencils and rough books, Pantone, RAL, and NCS samples, cameras and a personal photos studio, Two iMac and a Macbook with internet access, several softwares as Vectorworks and Shark for 3D design, Adobe Creative Cloud for graphic designs, a workshop for making prototypes with wood, metal, plastic, fabric, and electronic, a material library at home and a larger one under subscription, a large Fab-Lab right next to me.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
PS: It is not a problem: « quand on aime on ne compte pas! » I was born on a farm, where living and working were not separated. This is my preferred way of life. By chance I own a large wooden property with two houses, one for living and one for working. My life is very enjoyable.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
PS: There are no time scale, it could be between a day up to a year, maybe more.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
PS: How does inspiration comes to you?

FS: What was your most important job experience?
PS: Founding and developing QUISO brand with my own designs

FS: Who are some of your clients?
PS: The Mandarin Oriental of Hong Kong, shanghai and Marrakech, the Royal Monceau in Paris, quite a few Relais & Chateau, many michelin star restaurants in France and in various areas around the world.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
PS: The design I do now, because i feel free.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
PS: Keep going, and eventually find a partner that I may pass on my ‘savoir faire’.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
PS: I develop my designs myself.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
PS: No

FS: How can people contact you?
PS: Its easy to find online through my sites.

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
PS: This interview is very complete. I thank my english apprentice, Tom, for his help with the translation, and coaching may language abilities . Thank you.


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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