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Design is already – and will become increasingly – a competition factor between companies. The Scandinavian countries have been well aware of this fact for a number of years, and it is a mindset that is now extending everywhere. Composites have their part to play in this, on account of their special characteristics and their capacity to integrate particular functions. Let's discuss this with a specialist: Mr Pol Dubuis.
(Published on November-December 2008 – JEC Magazine #45)
AN INTERVIEW WITH POL DUBUIS, DESIGNER FREELANCE
JEC Composites Magazine: For how long can have you been a designer and how did you become one?
POL DUBUIS: Having graduated in 2003, I first started working in the Malherbe agency in Paris before turning freelance in 2004. I've always loved designing. This is why I studied Applied Arts at a technology school. It was there that I discovered design and decided to make a career of it. I subsequently went to Paris to study for a BTS certificate at the Olivier de Serres ENSAAMA School of Art. I then went on to complete my studies at the European Institute of Design in Milan, one of the top design schools in the economic capital of Italy. Today my activity has expanded and I work as much on product design as I do on graphic and web design.
JCM: What are your responsibilities to your customers?
P. D.: My main responsibility is to satisfy my customers so that they can be proud of the projects they have confided in me. Once my mission is over, the project is no longer mine. It is therefore absolutely vital that my customers are comfortable with what we have created together. Otherwise they will be unable to sell what has been produced and my work will have been a waste of time. This is why I am absolutely insistent that each project constitutes a genuine exchange. I am a "global" designer. I don't have a speciality. My customers, on the other hand, are perfectly conversant with a domain, a material, a technique, and so on. What I can bring into the equation is an aesthetic, practical, ergonomic perspective and provide added value to the meaning or the poetry of an object. Yet projects can only be truly successful if they are the fruit of constructive exchanges and a common effort.
JCM: Which project are you most proud of?
P. D.: That's a hard question! The project I'm most proud of tends to be the one I've just finished! Going back to Carbonado, which is one of my most recent projects, it was a real joy to do. When Jean-François Moine contacted me, he had no idea where he wanted to go. Together, we launched a brand and designed a range of fine leather goods based on carbon fibre. I designed the logo, created the style guide, designed the products and set up the website including online sales. Thanks to this global support effort, today there is consistency between the products and the communication. Jean-François only ever had one point of contact for the entire running of his project. So yes, I can say for sure that I'm proud of this project! And it's by no means over; we still come up with lots of ideas together!
JCM: What is your experience of composite materials?
P. D.: Carbonado was my first experience of composites. Jean-François Moine began by showing me his work, the different composites and how they can be used. He wanted to bring to the fore the technical characteristics of carbon fibre. This was the starting point of our reflection process. I now have lots of ideas about applications for this material, and in many different fields!
JCM: The way you see it, what do composites have to offer compared to other materials?
P. D.: I'm not going to go into detail about the characteristics of these materials here. Yet generally, thanks to their lightness and resistance, they can be used for creating simple, purist forms. Carbon fibre and Texalium have no need for adornment; they don’t need painting or varnishing. They are intrinsically beautiful. As far as I know, however, one criticism that may be levelled against them is that they are not 100%-recyclable, yet bearing in mind the current trend to concentrate more and more on the life cycle of a product and on manufacturing products that are said to be recyclable (though only rarely generated from recycled products themselves), products made of carbon or other composites may acquire longer life expectancy. I strongly believe that we need to leave behind the age of throwaway goods and concentrate a little more on the quality of the products that we design or purchase and extend the life cycle of objects, both in terms of their resistance and their perennial appeal. Take my office chair, for example. It was designed by Charles and Ray Eames in the 1950s and was made, way back then, out of fibreglass. Well, its design is as contemporary today as it ever was, and you’ll find it in all the latest interior design magazines. These are two of the designers that I tend to look up to.
JCM: What are the latest design trends for these materials?
P. D.: In the past few months we've seen a big comeback of carbon fibre in products destined for the general public (phones, glasses, etc.). Unfortunately it is often used simply for decoration purposes, as a veneer. I find that a shame. Composites deserve better than that!