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Keep on Trying, Everything Eventually Gives Results: Philippe Cramer

Philippe Cramer is a product designer, born in New York and grew up in Switzerland.

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The Interview

1. In your furniture design, you seem to be fond of round materials, would you agree?

I enjoy working with sensual materials and shapes. I believe that the design world has been enslaved by industrial materials for too long now. As a result most products have lost a sense of sensuality linked to natural material or organic shapes. After all we are living beings and as much as we like to perceive ourselves as ultra civilized and sophisticated, we are still made of organic substance.

So yes, to counter my experience of mostly impersonal and strict surroundings, I have focused on the humanity quotient associated with natural materials, hand-made production and sensual form. That said, too
much of anything isn't good and therefore I like to mix.

2. When you create a design, do you make sure that it gets a minimalistic appearance or does it naturally take that look?

I do not need to make sure of that: sounds obvious, but when I concentrate on the essence of a project, a clear and straightforward shape is automatically generated. I then decide to decide to stop there or go further with a narrative which is usually achieved through decoration or a play on semantics.

I very much relate to a paired-down aesthetic. That said, I also enjoy the poetic dimension linked to symbolism and decoration. Life would be boring otherwise...

3. How did you come up with the concept of BUBBLES?

This particular project started being a project for the Champagne company Dom Perignon. I was asked to design a table with the champagne in mind and this was one of my first projects, designed to be tables and tabletop products. In the end we went in another direction but I kept working on this for my own production. Formally this project was easy to draw but to manufacturing it is a whole other ballgame.


4. Do you have a material that you most preferably work with?

I am very fond of natural and traditional materials. I work a lot with oak or walnut, hand cast porcelain, hand hammered silver... But I like to counter an eventual “crafty” feel with high-end technology and new techniques, like 3D printing, electroluminescence, new generations of carbon fiber...

I really feel interested in each material because of its particular specificities so the range is broad. My main goal is to get the material used to be part of the whole story of not only the final product but also of the environment it is going to live in.

5. How would you personally describe minimalism?

Straightforwardness, honesty and striving to strip superfluous messages.

I am not sure though that I associate with it. If anything my work would be closer to post minimalism as it often includes themes found in minimalism, but is also usually hand-made thus introducing a human element - in contrast to the emotionless machine works of minimalism.

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6. What is the most challenging part of your profession?

Making the hard cash.

7. What advice do you have for an aspiring designer?

Keep on trying, everything eventually gives results. And put some cash aside for the (many) early years.

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