The Minimalism in Ornamentation
Making a comeback to bolster design and conquer new markets
Jean-Marc Barbier, June 3, 2019
Hervé Matejewski ignores all conventions and simply follows his nose for a mixture, “questioning without shocking”. He has re-coloured a toile-de-Jouy with fluorescent ink that makes it light up in black light. The delicate faces step out of the paintings by the mannerist painter François Clouet like flashes of paint on the immaculate plates (this technique is based on printing a film onto a surface before re-firing). It is a joyful concertinaing of two worlds… Renoma also uses digital printing for mythological themes with which it upholsters stylish chairs from the Street Art line by the Ateliers Philippe Coudray. And there are also Cristian Zuzunaga’s textiles printed with a mosaic of pixels that cover the strict lines of Christophe Delcourt’s chairs ( and

“The elite brands set the fashion and the trends then work their way down level by level with the help of retailers until they reach mass production,” says François Basilien. “Even the Scandinavians, who are accustomed to simplicity, are getting heavily into decorated styles!” Thus Ikea’s latest models include stylised cutting and the Selma chair has narrative cushions recreating textile styles of four different periods.

This boom in decoration invites designers to free themselves of all constraints, and this is particularly the case of manufacturers who have already shown their skill and expertise. For Prouenat Ferronier, Nicolas Aubagnac has designed the Olympe collection, a fine tribute to the opulent, inventive lines of Poillerat. As decoration becomes accessible to the many, top-of-the-range customers intend to differentiate themselves by making innovative choices. Moissonnier moves back and forth between the centuries to come up with a hybrid creation that is “Merovingina-inspired Neo-Gothic and 1900 in the spirit of Carlo Bugatti”!

Anthropomorphic, geometric, plant-like, zoomorphic: French heritage contains an abundance of different models. It’s just that art schools stopped giving classes in decorative composition in 1968,” says Stéphane Laurent with regret. “It’s paradoxical, because events like the National Heritage Days are popular with everyone. People fought against classical learning and the imitation of existing models under the pretext that they got in the way of one’s own creativity. The fact that the ornamental tradition has not been handed down is detrimental to students’ education, especially those who received few cultural references due to their family situation. They thus socially ‘marked’ in a manner that is likely to hinder them in their careers. Our ornamental past is a incredible asset to give a ‘French touch to design’… It is a sign of our identity that we should promote and it has enormous commercial potential, especially on markets where ornamentation is important like the Middle East and emerging countries.” At the margins of this extraordinary heritage, new technologies have extended the decorative repertoire almost infinitely. The Israelis Nir and Ada Simhon of On On Surface are conducting almost fundamental research into textiles and the effects of cutting, which they then apply using computer-controlled machines. The result is “the enormous satisfaction of creating decorations that exceed our imagination!”

The disgruntled might well fear that the creative process will come to be dominated by machines, but 3 Form’s response is that the materials that are developed in this way are environmentally friendly and satisfy a demand for customisation. As for the 5.5 Designers collective, it seeks to “provide honest and affordable consumer alternatives with every one of our designs and constantly seek to turn the everyday into something special.” The Cloning project is meant to be “a service to design objects that resemble each and every one of us by taking physical data directly from the subject’s body and thereby determining the aesthetics of the object”. This approach is made possible by the flexibility of digital prototyping technologies combined with the know-how of craftsmen who adjust their technique to fit each order. Rather than contributing to aesthetic standardisation, Cloning aims to put human nature back at the centre of matters.” Who could possibly complain about that?

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