The New Wave of French Furniture

The most innovative pieces from the country's latest design stars.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

As France's elder statesman of design, Philippe Starck, did for the 21st-century's first decade, a cadre of his countrymen (all under 40) are creating an aesthetic—at once experimental and refined—that's defining this one. And trendsetting galleries and high-end manufacturers are taking note. You could wait to see these designers exhibited alongside Le Corbusier, Jean Prouvé, and Starck—but wouldn't it be smarter to collect their work now?

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Shaping ordinary wood into seemingly impossible forms, Duchaufour-Lawrance is similarly redefining notions of craftsmanship with best sellers such as the Buonanotte Valentina bed for Italy's Ceccotti Collezioni and the Corvo chair for Bernhardt Design.
As innovative with furniture (a geodesic chair that conforms to the body) as he is with housewares (an air purifier that uses plants as filters), Lehanneur was recruited by a Harvard prof to design elements of Paris' art-science think tank Le Laboratoire.
After his fictional 3-D designs for brands like Apple, Adidas, and Louis Vuitton went viral, Morabito (brand name Ora-Ïto) earned commissions from the big guns: an aluminum bottle for Heineken, concept cars for Citroën, futuristic chairs for Italian manufacturer Zanotta.
Tweaking familiar forms, Ragot has created vases that look like Ming-dynasty vessels with vapor trails, a marble lamp that appears feather-light, and a seating unit that breaks into pixel-like ottomans. He's even pared down the coffee table to a legless resin blob.
Nigro's specialty is intersecting, even colliding forms: a single rug collaged from multiple overlapping squares, a storage unit resembling three precariously stacked shelves, and a table-and-chairs set that scrambles to create an asymmetrical sofa.
Known for his limited-edition furniture—often exhibited like fine art in Paris and Milan—Fourquié just unveiled a series focused on equilibrium, including the cantilevered Big Boss desk and the Totem tables, which balance svelte wooden surfaces atop concrete bases.
The four founders of this Parisian firm strive to give each of their works a witty twist, including their Cloning series (speakers that match your eye color, chairs based on your posture) and the Fire Kit lamp, which presents the camping classic in a sleek, new light.

Walnut Buonanotte Valentina Bed by Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance for Ceccotti Collezioni


Photographs: Courtesy of each designer
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