MICHEL CHARLOT — Interview
Michel Charlot, Swiss industrial designer born in Lausanne.
Hello Michel Charlot, how are you?
Excited as I am starting new projects with Vitra, Belux and L&Z.
Can you introduce yourself? What is your background?
I am half Swiss half French. I was born in Lausanne before growing up in France and finally came back to Lausanne to study industrial design at Ecal. Right after school, I went to Paris to work for Jasper Morrison. Then I started working as an industrial designer living and working in many European cities.
Where does your interest in product design come from?
I am not sure, maybe because too many objects that surround me make me feel uncomfortable and I feel the need to improve them. I also believe that well designed objects can make their user’s life a nicer experience.
You designed the Davy Table for Vitra, which is now the table of the Swiss design classic Hans Coray Landi chair. Can you tell us more about this project?
The starting point was the chair, then the material. We decided to use anodized aluminium according to the chair. Then we worked in reducing the number of elements to be designed, keeping the table affordable despite the fact we use a high value material. Finally we gave its actual shape to match the Landi chair, designed 75 years earlier.
You have been awarded in 2013 the Design Preis Schweiz with U-turn for Belux, what was the idea behind this project, and what does this award mean to you?
For U-turn it all started with the technical solution patented by Belux. Then we worked on creating a range of lighting that capitalizes on the technical innovation. As always I went through a lot of uncertainty during the design process, which is never easy if done with passion. It’s then a nice reward to receive such a prize, after a long term work.
Do you follow any kind of manifesto?
I do not know if it can be called manifesto but I aim to design appealing yet rational products.
What is exciting in design today?
Not so much to be honest, I think design is getting a bit lost. Many designers with manufacturers are just making different thing but not really better ones. I fear that blogs also have a bad influence on design world today, even more on students. It looks to me that they are promoting things mainly because of being just previously unseen (luckily for some of them…). It is an increasing gap between designing for press or designing for people.
What’s next? Some projects to come?
We are about to launch some new product with Belux and L&Z for the end of the year.
Interview : Tiffany Baehler & Dennis Moya
Davy Table 2014 – photo : Vitra, Roll up 2013 – photo : L&Z, U-turn family 2012 – photo : Belux.
This interview is part of a series in collaboration with the Design Days 2014.