Patrice Renaudot's fascination with LED light has resulted in some truly arresting creations, Selina Denman discovers.
Cutting-edge lighting from French designer Patrice Renaudot
I can't figure out where the light is coming from, or what colour it is. Every time I move, it changes - an intriguing yet perplexing visual enigma.
I'm in the Faubourg Design showroom in Dubai, looking at Alysse, a series of slimline, transparent acrylic panels that have been delicately slotted together and infused with LED lights to create a stunning pendant lamp. Alysse is the brainchild of French designer Patrice Renaudot, whose Paris-based company Noegh specialises in unusual lighting and light-inspired furniture products.
The artistry of Renaudot's products can perhaps be attributed to his multifaceted academic background. The son of scientists, his first degree was in quality and production engineering; his second was in fashion design, which he studied at ESMOD in Paris. "This is an interesting background for industrial design," he admits.
While the engineering training means that Renaudot is well versed in key processes such as thermoforming, rotation moulding, metal spinning and CNC machining, and can thus oversee and manage the complete development of his lighting products, the fashion degree was also vitally important, he says.
"When you know how to create a complete and coherent collection, you can then translate your knowledge to other areas of design. It is easier for you to do this as your background is rich and widened in scope. Time is also important in fashion design. You have to follow a precise schedule, from the early stages of creation to the moment when the clothes are delivered to the stores."
Noegh was launched soon after Renaudot graduated from ESMOD and was born out of a specific interest in the potential of LED lighting. "When I started working on my own products, I wanted to create a collection of lighting and lighting furniture that would be very different to what was, and still is, available on the market," he says.
"Most lighting furniture is made of white opalescent shapes - squares, ¿ower pots etc - with an LED light source inside. I wanted to use clear materials like glass and acrylic to design my furniture and I had to ¿nd a way to hide the LED components so that just the light beams would be visible inside the furniture, like ¿bre optic sparkles. This work has led to a 6mm thick LED panel, where the light pattern is a regular matrix. This panel is then used as part of wall lights or furniture like bedside tables or coffee tables," he explains.
The first product that Renaudot created under the Noegh brand was Kioob, a transparent "mood lighting table" that was designed to be placed next to a sofa or a bed. However, Renaudot quickly learnt that his unusual creations were open to interpretation.
"Some people managing nightclubs or restaurants saw it as a stool. So I realised that people won't necessarily see my night table the same way I designed it. I cannot make people think it is a table or use it as a table. So, as a designer I have to ask myself whether it is strong enough to be used as a stool."
With Kioob, Renaudot adopted the straight lines, matrices, rectangles, cubes and squares that would become the hallmarks of his work. However, he realised that this lent his products a decidedly masculine feel, which he now tries to counteract by experimenting with pattern and volume. For Alysse, for example, he consciously tried to create a more feminine aesthetic by arranging his geometric panels in the shape of a four-petalled flower.
Like many of Renaudot's other products, Alysse is made of a polychromatic material that changes colour depending on what angle it is viewed from - which explains my initial confusion. Alysse also highlights Renaudot's love of modular design, which ensures that products "can be assembled and dismantled like a game". This ties into his ecological sensitivity and his concern for what happens when his creations are no longer in use.
"You have to design your product to be able to separate the different materials. This means that instead of glueing two materials together, you have to design the shapes so that they can ¿t and lock into each other. Thus, the reverse action is possible and materials can be separated. Using screws is also a nice technique to assemble materials.
"Composite materials can be interesting from a technical point of view but are not from a recycling point of view. Most of the time composite materials are difficult to take apart," he explains.
Renaudot's sustainable sensibility also means that he is keen to work with wood in the future. "One material I haven't worked with so far is wood, which is de¿nitely a gift from nature. Using a material such as wood in your designs makes your ecological footprint smaller, as long as the forests are part of a sustainable development loop. Saying this may sound fashionable, but I'm not keen on fashionable thoughts or behaviours. This is part of a larger re¿ection: to what extent are the materials we use recyclable or harmless to our environment?"
At present, Renaudot is working to extend his product range so that it includes top-end products as well as more affordable designs. With its polychromatic material and laser-engraved patterning, Alysse is an expensive product to create, Renaudot explains, but making a lampshade out of a simple light-diffusing white acrylic can bring the price down substantially, while still resulting in a timeless and unique design.
The challenge is finding the right people to help transform these ideas into a reality, he explains. "A good idea will remain on paper if you don't meet the right partners. I have many designs that I have put down in drawing but I still haven't found the right partners to go ahead. Those are designs that I cannot make all by myself."
Nonetheless, Renaudot remains committed to creating timeless, creative, quality products - in the tradition of his favourite designers, Charles and Ray Eames and Jean Prouve. "I see their creations in the furniture area as ef¿cient and key designs. The function is always clear. Human engineering and strength were the main points of their designs. And they took into account recycling issues even though ecological questions were not fundamental at this time. This is an example of timeless design. Those creations are designs you can own for decades."
Noegh products are now available in the UAE from Faubourg Design, Business Central Towers, Dubai, www.faubourgdesign.com