Simple and refined, Suzanne Trocmé’s furniture collection for Bernhardt Design shows the significance of paring things back.
6 February, 2012
Suzanne Trocmé doesn’t refer to her affinity for design as ’talent’; she prefers to use the word ’osmosis’.
“I’m very good at absorbing,” she says. “And that’s the beginning of the story, really.”
Throughout her varied career – as a journalist for titles including Wallpaper and the New York Times; as a curator for the London Design Festival, a published author, respected design aficionado and designer for furniture company Bernhardt Design – Trocmé has absorbed the wisdom of a number of influences.
Her conversation is peppered with references to her inspirations, from the Russian Poets, Symbolists and Futurists – who were a fascination during college years – to Luciano Benetton, Ralph Lauren and Paul Smith, for whom Trocmé worked in store development and retail design, to le Corbusier and even le Notre, landscape artist to Louis XIV whose “straight lines and harmonious curves” Trocmé seeks to emulate in her designs.
“I’m fascinated by line, I’m fascinated by mathematics, geometry, by light and comfort,” she explains.
“Architecture is really the skin we live in, and we have to feel comfortable in it. As a furniture designer, I want to augment the comfort that already exists within good architecture. Which is why I don’t mind if people walk past the furniture [without noticing it]!
“My process is very much in the fact that human beings need to sit down, and they need to sit comfortably, and I believe in creating something that is physically comfortable and visually comfortable. I think there’s a lot of visually noisy stuff out there, and it bothers me.”
Simplicity and harmony characterise Trocmé’s designs; they’re pieces designed to suit anyone and any environment. Her Little Black Dress Collection for Bernhardt Design was intended to possess the same versatility and timelessness of the wardrobe favourite.
“I wanted the pieces to be adaptable for all, making only partial statements within a larger framework,” she says. Trocmé’s no-nonsense approach works, her designs appearing in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, the New York Yankees and Mets stadiums and even in the mise-en-scene of a Hollywood rom com.
“Sandra Bullock’s bottom on my chair!” she laughs. “I love the fact that someone’s bothered to put it in a movie. It’s fascinating to see that these pieces are adaptable and they can get into different milieus and into different areas.”
This adaptability arises from paring her designs back to create the most simple shapes – “there’s only so much information one should impart with a piece of design; it’s all about the edit,” she says – as well as always designing with the end user in mind.
“My approach to design, being untrained, is to try and make sense of it, and I always start at the end, musing who is going to sit on my chair or drink at my table,” Trocmé explains. “There’s no point in doing anything unless it’s fit for purpose.”
Bernhardt Design is available in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.
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