Although he augments his namesake furniture collection just about every year, quality and permanence trump faddishness and flash for Paris-based designer Christophe Delcourt. His pieces, which include seating, lighting and tables of all kinds, are typically clean of line, simple of form and crafted to endure. And they’re always inspired by strong defining concepts, such as light and shade or gravity versus inertia.
Both of these themes are central to his latest line, the Shape of Shade, a series of wood, stone and upholstered furnishings that are simultaneously fluid and rooted to the ground, their sculptural silhouettes casting distinctive shadows when struck by rays of light. It should come as no surprise that shadow and motion would interest Delcourt, who trained as an actor and scenographer.
But as he told Azure in Toronto recently, it’s easier to be a showman than to master restraint in an interesting way. Among the keys to accomplishing the latter, he said, are a strong team of suppliers, a willingness to experiment and a deep well of patience.
When I started out as a designer, I didn’t dare do anything frivolous. I needed my work to be very pure, with very simple shapes, because I was afraid it would become dated. But little by little, I began going in new directions, exploring new things. With age and experience, I could do more expressive work, more subtle yet more daring pieces.
I always try to find a balance between material and shape. How will a piece of stone sit atop a piece of wood? How will two pieces of wood intersect with each other? These are the questions I explore with the Shape of Shade. And they’re what I’ll be looking at with my next collection, which will investigate assembling and overlapping.
Some designers always pay homage to past artists because people trust and understand those references. It’s much more difficult to create something that hasn’t been seen yet. It’s harder to predict if a design will pass the test of time since it hasn’t been tested.
The kind of timeless design I aspire to is also about being sustainable. If you buy something and discard it quickly, that’s not good. I don’t want people to get bored of the items they buy. In France, there is this will to pass things along to the next generation. Furniture is passed down because it is part of a family’s history and growth.
I like furniture that can take hits and dents and still remain pretty. The marks of life don’t damage good furniture. They enhance it.
For this Paris-based designer, life, family and furniture are intimately linked.