Cover French Designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance, Image: Instagram/ @noeduchaufourlawrance

The Portugal-based designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance discusses the importance of nature in his work as well as the art and furniture collections he currently admires

Design mostly flows intuitively for French-born designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance. There’s no rigid structure on the drawing board for him; the award-winning designer instead draws inspiration from nature and his surroundings. His affinity with the environment is key and plays a strong influence in his work. 

“Most of my inspiration comes from nature and the context of the project I’m doing,” he explains. “By context, I mean the places I see, the people I meet, the materials I use, techniques I discover, and the history. The harmony between the elements often comes from the inspiration I get from the natural environment.”

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Born in 1974 in the Brittany region of South France, the designer’s childhood spent in close proximity to open waters ignited his bond with nature. He also grew up in a creative environment—his father is a sculptor and his mother is an artist.

With a keen sense of combining modernity with timelessness, the design powerhouse has crafted sculptural pieces for notable French brands including Hermès, Saint Louis and Ligne Roset; he also crafted the bold and distinctive interiors of establishments like Japanese restaurant Megu in Switzerland's Gstaad, as well as retail concepts for clients such as Yves Saint Laurent and the BSL Gallery in Paris.

Most of my inspiration comes from nature and the context of the project I’m doing.

— French designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance

Elegance underlines the acclaimed designer’s work. Whether it’s objects or spaces, Duchaufour-Lawrance highlights materials with natural shapes and organic lines, enhanced with authenticity and details that encourage one to reconnect with nature.

Take his latest collection, Burnt Cork, for example. Created through his Portugal-based studio Made in Situ, the design maestro used burnt cork to sculpt a contemporary collection that encourages one to rethink the properties of the often-overlooked material. 

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“When I moved to Portugal in 2017, I drove through the dramatic forest fires near the mountainous area of Pedrógão Grande,” Duchaufour-Lawrance explains. “Seeing the devastated landscapes had a lasting impact on me. I guess it is not a conventional source of inspiration—seeing as fires are very damaging, especially in Portugal—but this experience later took form into the Burnt Cork furniture collection. A collection, which in my eyes is a tribute to Portuguese cork; an ode to the resilience of the material, of the people, and of the environment.” 

Here, we get the designer to share more of his design perspectives; he also selected seven furniture collections and art pieces that he has been admiring lately.

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

Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance (ND) I wouldn’t say I follow trends as such. I rather get inspired from my travels and the places I go. A few years ago, I discovered Anthroposophique design (a philosophy inspired by esotericist Rudolf Steiner's premise that the human intellect has the ability to contact spiritual worlds), a movement that I move towards, at Art Basel and in turn at the Dá Licença hotel in Portugal. I've begun to collect some pieces recently. 

How do you keep your home organised whilst working from home? 

ND I cannot work in a messy place; I need a clean and clear environment. The best option for me is to work at a simple table that faces a window that overlooks the sea. Near Lisbon, there is a beach with wooden cabanas that I rent at times to work and get away. 

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What has been the most memorable point in your career thus far? 

ND They are many. It began with Sketch restaurant in London as the first shot of adrenaline; then there was my collaboration with Ceccotti Collezioni and the beautiful time I have spent in Tuscany. 

The beauty of our exchanges with Jerry Helling from American furniture company Bernhardt design, which has lasted more than 12 years, is also a highlight! Immersing myself in the crystal environment at Saint Louis is another memorable moment. 

And finally, Made In Situ, which began with one of the strongest and most unique experiences I ever had: the Soenga, an ancient pit firing technique still practiced today in Molelos village. During this annual event, the artisans and village population come together to keep the tradition alive.

What’s one piece of advice you have for an aspiring designer? 

ND Be honest. 

What are some collections that have caught your eye recently? 

1 / 7

Burnt Cork chair

ND The Burnt Cork chair is part of my latest collection in Lisbon at the Made in Situ gallery. I’m proud to have presented this collection, which is an ode to the resilience of the cork material. At Made in Situ, the story behind the designed object is just as important as the final outcome. 

2 / 7

Traditional ceramics from Nisa, Portugal

ND These are traditional ceramics with quartz, which are typical from the Nisa region of Portugal. I chose this as it is (so) unique; the people of Nisa are the only ones using quartz in ceramic that I know of, and it is very interesting. 

3 / 7

Rocking Chair by Philolaos Tloupas

ND I've known Greek artist Philolaos Tloupas since I was a kid, as he is a family friend. However, I often find myself discovering new and beautiful things about his work. 

4 / 7

An artwork by Claire de Santa Coloma

ND I discovered Claire de Santa Coloma when I was in Lisbon. An Argentinian artist who works with wood, she has an interesting approach to the relationship created between the sculpture itself, the environment that surrounds it, and the spectator. 

5 / 7

Photographs by Charles Fréger

ND I love this French photographer. I have two of his prints at home!

I discovered Charles Fréger's work through the Yokainoshima series that he did in Japan; for me, these pictures showcase another part of the world. I then discovered that he did (another series), Wilder Mann, in Portugal. Now, we're going to work on another project together. 

6 / 7

Jon sofá

ND This is not recent work! However, we are revisiting the design to help create our first sofa that uses only traditional techniques and no-chemicals foam. 

7 / 7

Saint Louis Folia lamps

ND These memorable crystal lamps are part of the long-term collaboration I have with Saint Louis.