Cover The studio opened the doors to their new gallery during Paris Design Week (Photographed by Romain Ricard)

The co-founders of French design studio Le Berre Vevaud lets us in on their process of working as a pair as well as how they draw design inspiration across the ages

When French designers Raphaël Le Berre and Thomas Vevaud first met whilst studying at the École Camondo design school in Paris, they quickly found that they had incredible working chemistry between them. After graduation, however, they soon parted ways to each glean more experience from the industry. 

While Vevaud joined French interior design agency Gilles et Boissier and thereafter Marseilles designer François Champsaur’s studio, Le Berre headed to New York to work for MR Architects before returning to Paris to work in restaurant design at Amar Studio. Years later, the friends once again joined forces together, launching Le Berre Vevaud in 2008.

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“Despite our differing backgrounds, we have always been in perfect harmony with our decorative convictions as well as our common passion for noble materials and the art of beautiful craftsmanship,” says Le Berre. 

Vevaud continues: “Our common sensibility for art history, decorative arts and contemporary architecture led us to choose this path and to create our interior architecture agency together in 2008. Opening our own interior design studio has always been part of our dream, and it was the obvious next step for us.”

To date, the dynamic duo have crafted not only beautiful interiors; they've also launched their eponymous furniture line, and have created custom decorative items for such as Dior. 

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Inspired by the “bold colours and geometric forms”, the designers are heavily influenced by the Memphis design movement founded by Italian architect Ettore Sottsass in 1980. The studio also takes cues from the Art Deco period as well as the Bauhaus style of the early 20th century, which “had the idea of creating a global work of art that unites all the arts” as well as the conviction that “form follows function”. 

“With the emergence of new materials, the ethos of historical and cross-cultural aesthetics is something that inspires all our creations,” says Vevaud. “Our style is sophisticated, but not ostentatious or austere due to the bold colours, playful shapes and forms that’s predominant in our work. We always try to combine classicism with the present, along with a minimalist aesthetic.”

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Their signature refined style is translated into spaces that exude contemporary elegance and a timeless aesthetic. The designers also leans towards rounded forms and soft curves in their work. “We find that these forms make rooms more fluid and give more ease to daily life,” notes Le Berre. “We were tired of contemporary angular lines and wanted to tackle undulating, round shapes, which can be sourced from the rich writing of the 1930s.”

With more than a decade’s experience, the studio is known to craft a unique narrative for each project. “It is always very rewarding when a client of ours comes back to us with new commissions, giving us free reign over the projects. This is always an invaluable mark of their recognition and proof of trust,” Vevaud shares. 

The duo is not afraid to apply their creativity in different fields; it’s not uncommon to see the studio designing bespoke pieces for their interior clients. They decided to launch their furniture line in 2016, and had opened their first showroom in Paris this year, where visitors can admire their eclectic designs in person. 

“One of the most memorable points in our career is the launch of our first gallery in Paris, inaugurated during the Paris Design Week in September 2021,” says Le Berre. “For us, this project is the embodiment of our creative universe, and the scenography of the gallery will evolve according to the seasons and our inspiration.”

The dynamic duo attributes much of their success to their creative synergy. “When working as a group, it is important to share the same vision, values, and objectives. Of course, complementarity is essential, but we must also seek different points of view in order to grow, open our minds and broaden our horizons,” shares the designers. “We would also like to tell young designers to never cower as perseverance is the key in any creative profession.” 

Here, the studio shares their thoughts on design styles as well as notable furniture and art that have served as a source of inspiration recently.

Tell us more about your creative process. 

Raphaël Le Berre (RLB): Each project is its own unique creation that first and foremost begins with the client as the driving force. We broadly discuss the outlines of the potential structure of the space then exchange ideas, concepts and think about the materials and colour palette. This is an experimental phase of the projects where we can all feed off each other’s individual ideas and decide together who will oversee the developments.

Once the project is underway, we will consult each other to align and agree, finetune and validate certain details together. The more specific a client is with their personal aesthetics and their lifestyle requirements, the more possibilities we have concerning the choice of our materials and allows us to define the directive to design a space that resonates with them and can enchant their daily lives.

How did your eponymous furniture brand come about, and what are you most inspired by when designing the pieces? 

Thomas Vevaud (TV): It’s the combination of forms that interest us, so we work a lot in the interplay and enhancement of materials. We like to marry fine essences which mix lacquered and waxed materials, enhanced with soft marble and deep lacquer, boasting a discreet reminiscence of the decorative arts movement.

We are also struck by the excellence of the timeless lines and colours of (architects such as) Luis Barragán as well as the modernism of Gio Ponti. We have tried to renew these influences with modern, sophisticated, and sober writing through elegant creations.

What does a minimalist aesthetic mean to you? 

RLB: A minimalist aesthetic focuses on the essentials and has the power to reinvent classicism to give it a sense of modernity.

What is the mark of a well-designed space to you? 

TV: For us, it is important to respect the architectural identity of the spaces while adding soul and inciting curiosity and contrast; a well-designed space should awaken one’s emotions and sensations.

Pick one: bright colours or neutral hues? 

RLB: Colour is an essential element in our designs. We are fortunate to live in an era that allows for the mixing of styles, materials, and colours. We always look for a chromatic spectrum that will combine or contrast with a white, beige or a chalkier colour to shake up a muted atmosphere.

What is one design trend you’re currently obsessed with?

TV: Trends, in general, are opposed to our vision of design that is intended to be timeless. However, we cannot help but notice that the foundation of our aesthetic, which encapsulates soft and rounded lines, is quite in line with the current trends!

Where do you find inspiration from? 

 

1. French artist and photographer Sabine Pigalle

TV: French artist and photographer Sabine Pigalle, who revisits classic imagery with styling and graphics, often inspires us. 

2. Emmanuelle Rybojad's LED installations

RLB: French visual artist Emmanuelle Rybojad’s LED installations are immersive, honest, simple, and very emotional.

3. Le Berre Vevaud Barth stool

RLB: The Barth stool is the iconic element in our furniture collection; it is satisfying to the eye and fits in every interior. The stools can be displayed as couples, trios, or simply on their own. They are sculptural in marble or nomadic in lacquer. Both functional and volatile, they can be conceptually adapted within different interiors.

4. Mathieu Lehanneur

RLB: We admire French designer Mathieu Lehanneur’s work, which erases the boundaries between art and poetry.

5. Le Berre Vevaud Goa bench

TV: We love the Goa bench from our Empreinte furniture collection. It is formed by an asymmetrical lacquered sphere base and a protruding seat. There is a confrontation of materials between fabric, wood, and metal.

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