Ulysse Martel is a French industrial designer currently based in Lausanne.

Hello Ulysse how are you?

Hello Tiffany and Dennis! I feel very exhausted but I’m great. I’m just out from my rugby training.

Can you introduce yourself?

I’m 27 years old. I was born in the Côte d’Azur, in France. I studied Cabinet Making at the Boulle School in Paris, then at ECAL (University of Art and Design Lausanne) where I graduated in 2014 with a Master degree in product design. I was sent by ECAL to Hong Kong for a 5 months design residency at HKDI (Hong Kong Design Institute) where I worked as an assistant teacher. I currently live and work in Lausanne as an assistant teacher and independent designer, which I enjoy a lot!

Where does your interest in design come from?

As a child, I was really imaginative for building toys, huts, and disguises. I always created things. I wanted to be surrounded by objects that I created. I am also really thankful to my parents because they made me discover both natural and cultural treasures. I never took anything for granted and definitive. I thus developed a curiosity for manufacturing that led me to product design. In fact I am not only interested in design but also in fashion, scenography and illustration.

Can you tell us more about your role of teacher? What does it bring you?

I try to not consider myself as a teacher. The Master of Design for Luxury and Craftmanship of ECAL where I work is almost an agency. My role is to be a human “hinge” between the creativity of the students and the manufacturing capacities of the companies who approach the school for a project. It brings me a lot of rigor and accuracy. I stay curious to everything, I meet a lot of manufacturers, discover new materials and have a chance to work with interesting people.

Do you have a favorite material to work with?

Not particularly, I always intend to challenge myself to find the appropriate material for a project. No matter if it’s metal, wood or plastic. I recently designed a gallery piece together with designer Miloš Ristin, a mirror made of Gorilla glass ®, so thin and so resistant that it really challenged my understanding of glass as a material. Currently, I test different rugby ball textures and patterns and I do a lot of research on knitted textile, in continuity with my rugby helmet project.

A designer that you admire?

Of course I learned a lot from great designers like Alexander Taylor or Ronan Bouroullec during my studies at ECAL. Nevertheless I also love the cinema industry. Some directors such as Jean-Jacques Annaud or Ridley Scott can bring their vision to a great level of reality. In some movies, you really can see how the future will be. On the other hand I love the unknown creators who have designed timeless products.

Is there a book which opened your eyes about design?

Not a book, but a comic. I am a comic collector. One of my favorite is called Le Cycle de Cyann by François Bourgeon. He created a world where every facets of life are so precisely designed that it could exist. Reading opens yourself to endless worlds and limitless objects. It keeps your creativity alive. Indeed, I believe that a designer should always act with foresight.

The last word…

Never stop challenging things.

Projects by Ulysse Martel. Interview: Dennis Moya and Tiffany Bähler, 11.16 ©LIGATURE.ch