An architect at the service of design
What is your background, and how long have you worked at Renault?
I'm an architect by profession. I studied architecture in Germany and then worked in many different fields: from event management to design, to building and interior architecture. I had always worked for agencies before I joined the Design department at Renault a little over ten years ago. I currently work in the Group Identity Design division, where I oversee projects such as the creation of buildings for our teams, the launch of the new stand for motor shows or interior design development. I work on both large-scale and small-scale design projects.
How can an architect flourish in the Design department of a carmaker?
An architect shouldn’t aim to do pure “construction”, but the profession is both rich and varied. I work a great deal on interior architecture, on identity charters and graphic environments of Groupe Renault’s brands, in collaboration with graphic designers and the other departments of the Group involved in each project.
The very interesting part, then, is to roll out an identity all around the world, for example in our satellite design studios in India, Romania and Brazil, as well as in different venues such as motor shows, concessions, etc.
I also enjoy working on more “entertaining” side projects such as the Initial Paris pop-up store at the Palais Royal, and the Coupé C exhibition, a study of a luxury vehicle by Renault’s design team, at the Villa Savoye in 2016. As you can see, my work is very rich.
You must have been thrilled when Renault had the idea to develop a house with the SYMBIOZ concept and a station with the EZ-GO concept.
There are definitely worse projects for an architect! It’s one of those projects you don’t see every day, or even every year. It is really a treat to be given challenges like these, and it’s truly enriching.
For example, for the house that was part of the ecosystem for the SYMBIOZ concept, we worked with an architectural firm, Marchi Architects, which was selected through a competition, and with a few different French agencies for the interior layout. This led to a great many exchanges, often very rich, with experts and designers.
On the EZ-GO concept station in particular, what were your sources of inspiration?
My inspiration comes from what I absorb on a daily basis: architecture, furniture, graphic design, art, etc. It’s also very interesting to work with a range of different scales, from the large scale of a building to the small design details.
For the EZ-GO concept station, my main sources of inspiration were prefabricated architecture and street furniture, as well as the purity of the design of a living room table that I love. Rather than creating a strong identity, our objective was to make the station blend into the urban fabric. Even its size should be able to adapt based on its location, hence the idea of the different blocks.
Since we are connected to our environment by our smartphones, a clear identity that could be seen from a distance was no longer necessary. However, we gave the station a luminous identity with indirect lighting in the lower part of each module and a halo of light on the access platform: when night falls, the station doesn’t disappear, it lights up.
It was also important to express robustness, which we did by working on the metal station blocks and applying an aluminum shade to them. This color is the same as that of the EZ-GO, but in a matte version instead of the shiny one used for the car.
We had already found this unity between the object and the vehicle with SYMBIOZ and the copper shade of the body, which was also used on the cylinder and the facades of the house. Moreover, we worked hard to achieve continuity with SYMBIOZ, as the perforations on the station platform are inspired by our vehicles and were already used on the cylinder of the house. This came from a desire to create continuity in our projects.
Your background as an architect is an even greater asset when you’re working on projects related to the mobility of the future, as you are now.
Absolutely. Architecture and car design are very complementary to one another, even if it's not immediately obvious. At a time when Renault is affirming its desire to focus on shared mobility, design and architectural elements are taking on even greater importance.
It’s important to remember that established cities like Paris are rather static, and that we can’t really change their structure. But we can help them to evolve by taking a different approach to architecture and seeking to reduce pollution, noise, congestion, etc. Projects like EZ-GO share these goals, and it's exciting to work on a truly concrete issue: adapting a contemporary object in order to offer solutions for decongesting cities and improving the mobility of tomorrow. With a car, of course, but also a house with SYMBIOZ and a station with EZ-GO. We try to connect the elements of our life to find broader solutions by looking beyond our central product, which is the car itself.
What advice would you give to a young architect who would like to work in a large group or a major brand?
It’s important to experiment with projects that use different scales. You have to be able to expand your horizons through different experiences: architecture, scenic arrangement, events, design, etc. This trains the mind and the eye and allows you, for example, to work on the overall design of a brand, to interpret it and bring it to life.
It helps enormously to be able to move from a large-scale element to a smaller-scale one, and the inverse as well. For architects who always work on large-scale elements, it can then be difficult to switch to a small scale. For example, building specialists will not necessarily have an eye for the little details if they go on to work in design.
And of course, it’s important to be curious, to learn new things and explore different interests. Personally, I'm passionate about craftsmanship, in particular ceramics and weaving. These are handmade crafts, but they can also help one to develop in the industrial field; they push you to find ideas and solutions for details that, on a major project like a concept car, make all the difference.