Q&A with Aurélien Barbry

4/24/2017 - Product news

At Salone del Mobile Milano 2017, Fredericia presented a new range of barstools and side tables designed by French designer Aurélien Barbry, known for his functional and minimalist design approach. Steel and wood shaped into a graphical, yet functional new series of furniture – The Barbry Collection.

The Barbry Collection consists of a barstool and three side tables of various heights. The stringent graphical expression of the products leaves no space for redundant parts. Every single piece fulfills a function – a design approach very similar to how Børge Mogensen created his furniture half a century ago.

We visited Aurélien in his Copenhagen based studio for a talk on his new collection.

1. What is your design philosophy?
I am driven by simplicity and function. I do not try to reinvent design languages with every new product design. Instead, I work with subtle tweaks on shapes, materials and details to create a personal approach, always questioning the functionality.

2. What made you want to work with Fredericia?
Fredericia has a long tradition for design, craftsmanship and quality. The approach is timeless, while never compromising on quality of materials. This is aligned with my own design ethos. Fredericia is such a great reference in the Danish design history and has produced so many pieces, which are an inspiration to me. The design of Børge Mogensen in general and the Spanish & Hunting chair in particular are objects I really admire.

3. What makes your design special?
I always focus on one detail - a "moment" - which sets the product apart from all others. It should not be complicated, but simple and recognizable. An example of this approach is the way I have designed how the frames organically meet each other.

4. How do you secure a kinship between the Fredericia design DNA and your product design?
Fredericia has its own signature when it comes to choice of materials and craftsmanship, but leaves space for new interpretations at the same time. This was a great frame for me to work within - having the freedom to create something new, while respecting the heritage.

5. What has been the inspiration behind the product?
I was interested in modularity, which I could use to create a significant design language. I wanted to create an object that extends the function and the aesthetic of seating. To challenge the ergonomics by adding multiple footrests and giving the users the opportunity to find their own way of seating.

6. How long has the process been from the first idea to the final product?
It took 18 months, which is not that long in fact. I spent about 6 months on my side from the first sketches to a first prototype in steel. The following 12 months were used on technical studies and production development.

7. Which characteristics in your design are you especially fond of?
I really like the modularity, which was the premise from the beginning. However, I especially like the detail that the stools can be used by all generations. Each piece of metal in the construction creates a footrest for different sizes and ages. It looks simple and obvious, but in fact it is not. I really like the fact that we are using only three sizes of frames to build a collection of four different pieces, which is a quite efficient approach.

8. Which detail in your design was the greatest challenge to materialize in the actual product?
The greatest challenge was to make sure that all frames are built thoroughly together so they can stand the test of time and withstand intensive everyday use. After several test runs we finally managed to stabilize the structure, securing a strong product that can last for generations.

9. If you had to describe Fredericia’s design DNA in three words, what would they be?
Timeless. Quality. Honest.