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François Mangeol Reveals the Life of a Designer

Designer François Mangeol lives and works in Saint-Étienne, France. Learn from Mangeol the meetings and exchanges a designer goes through and the responsibilities one must take.

Anyone in France can say that they’re a designer, there is no real regulation. In addition, the courses are many and various. I believe that one becomes a designer when leading projects; I do not see it as a state of its own. The first time I trained as a designer was almost 6 years ago. Since that time, I have realized that when deciding to be a designer once and for all, you cannot stop having fate and I believe that is one of the biggest motivations for the profession.

To design, make objects of any kind is great freedom, freedom associated with the fear of not knowing what tomorrow will bring while helping you to imagine and draw. It is this freedom that I’m motivated by, it pushes me to think, draw, write, this for hopefully a long period of time.

Throughout the day, I try to feed my perception by observing all kinds of circumstances. This is neither more nor less than a daily practice of perceiving. It is a curious need to look at the world that surrounds us. I believe that a designer swings between periods of extreme porosity and other more solid ones, so that he can to put together himself into a better fit to the projects that he undertakes. This is a necessary condition not locked into gimmicks but it’s to perpetually get better in questions.

It is a response to the ideal. It confronts the reality that brings us back to the attitude of sponsors that come to us for what we have done. In this context: current risk-taking is not often welcomed. Therefore, it tends to crystallize practices under each identity obtained quickly around a few projects. Identity that emerges faster and faster by developing means of dissemination such as the Internet. Moreover, designers are identified early as the “Releasers of the school” which tends to freeze an early first identity.

Today designers are so many that it unfortunately seems to be the order of the day to quickly create an identity and to make images of objects that are circulating on the web. There’s a belief that being a designer is someone that only looks at newsletter blogs without ever moving a finger. Images of projects and identities are still emerging, mostly consumed very quickly, which is understandable in view of the number of tickets issued daily on sites / blogs for news about design. It’s therefore necessary to keep a great curiosity of not enclosing ourselves of the image of our own practice, which is perhaps a trap in our generation.

It's challenging when you find yourself defending a project, and also taking a risks. You know this project, where you say "it would be great, this is exactly the thing!” except, your client does not know yet that it is what he needs. This time we do not know if it will pass, regardless of whether this is a big project or small, it still gives me big moment. That's when as designers we can discuss and deal with the client with a reasoned response which was not necessarily expected in the beginning. He must defend himself and justify his choice. The most frustrating thing is obviously the possibility of abandoning a project. But it still remains an experience of rich emotional moments and learning. You need to work hard! The preparation period is essential in this profession. You have to try dissecting the project into small components and details: it’s the little details and the care and devotion giving to them that makes a good project.

It is a profession of meetings and exchanges. The designer is often a person in charge of dialogues with both workshops and with leaders. I see this trade as an eternal starting block that’s always unbalanced, obliged to move forward and take position to achieve objectives. It is a precarious business, you never know what will happen the next day but it's very exhilarating, times are phagocyte, energetic, and it's not easy every day. But would it be interesting if it was easy?

Don’t be selfish, work hard, be curious, believe in yourself, build a team, and believe in their abilities, keep cool and to quote Samuel Beckett "Try again. Miss yet. Miss better."


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