This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Tanya Aguiñiga.
Name: Constance Guisset
Occupation: Designer. I design objects mainly, but I also do set design as well as interior architecture.
Current projects: In general, I have between 20 and 25 projects going at one time. Which sounds like a lot, but when you do design, temporality is different from one project to another; some projects take a very long time while others are fast. It allows you to have many projects at once, because the action is not all at the same time.
At the moment I'm preparing an exhibition of my work to take place in 2016. I'm doing set design for exhibitions in different museums this year and next year. And then I have several objects that were just released during Maison et Objet—some bags for the French brand Bensimon, outdoor furniture for Tectona, and an essential-oil diffuser and a backpack for another French brand called Nature & Découvertes.
Mission: I feel I have a mission of softening the environment, in a sense. Also, I'm trying to propose a more moving-objects world—with objects that move—and to propose a kind of little dream that comes with it. This is the mission I decided to give myself. But in a more general way, my mission is the same as any other designer, to make objects in the best ergonomic and aesthetic shape possible.
Windmills is a collection of round poufs for La Cividina.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? This arrived quite late. When I was younger, after my A level, I asked my parents if I could become a carpenter. And they said, well, why not try to do some studies first? And I was quite OK at school, so I did a preparatory school and then I went to business school and then I did a school of politics. I also studied in Japan and India. And then when I began to work, I realized that everything that I was doing outside of my studies—for example, I was doing carpentry and modeling and drawing and so on—I realized that all of this was more important, in fact, than my work. So I changed my life when I was between 25 and 27. I thought that design would be better for me. To finance my studies I worked as the administrator of the Bouroullec studio, and then I launched my studio between 2007 and 2009.
Education: I graduated from ENSCI–Les Ateliers in 2007.
First design job: My very first design job was when I was still a student and I did a set-design project for the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. But my first real design commission was from La Cie—one day I received an e-mail from them asking if I wanted to meet and propose a project. That became my first professional object as a designer.
Who is your design hero? I have several. I think it's maybe a chimera between Bruno Munari and Castiglioni and Noguchi. Something like that.
Constance Guisset Inside Guisset's studio in Paris
Describe your workspace: It's a very soft place with very nice people. When you enter, it's full of light; it's warm and soft at the same time. Well, to be honest, when it's winter it's not very warm—but there's a kind of visual warmness coming out of it. And there is color and it is white and you can see the sky.
Other than the computer, what is your most important tool? At the studio we have a place to build things with our hands. We have different tools for wood; we work also a lot with clay; we work a lot with paper. And we do a lot of models. Of course we work on the computer and we have a 3D printer and everything we need in terms of digital work. But I make a great point of using the hands and trying to explore things that are different.
What is the best part of your job? Inventing things with the people that work with me. We have, I think, real pleasure in inventing things, drawing, imagining, making models. We search for a long time, and then we approach, and then when I like the result I'm extremely happy. And I'm happy when I feel that the people I work with and for are happy too.
What is the worst part of your job? It's difficult to say—generally speaking, I'm very lucky. I guess the worst part is when you work a lot on a project and you believe in it and you're completely and fully involved, and then the project is cancelled. This dependence on other people is sometimes a difficult part.
What time do you get up and go to bed? I get up at 7:00 a.m. and—it sounds like I'm an old woman—I go to bed at about midnight.
How do you procrastinate? I practice something that I learned when I was in business school. I was working on very different subjects, and when I was fed up with one subject I changed to another subject—this helped me find a good rhythm and allowed me to work all the time without being bored. So I would say that another action is a solution.
What is your favorite productivity tip or trick? The fact that we have lots of projects at the same time helps us. Sometimes it's a problem because you don't have the time to concentrate. But sometimes it's very good because it's also a way of having some second thoughts about things.
What is the most important quality in a designer? Versatility. To be able to deal with different things at the same moment, and to be able to make a synthesis out of problems.
What is the most widespread misunderstanding about design or designers? I think that it is the same as in other intellectual practice: people cannot imagine the work it represents. People think you just make a drawing and that's it. Especially today, when people have this feeling that everything comes in one second, and you can read something on the Internet and it's free and it's open and it's so easy—they have this feeling that it's the same with an object, that you just make a drawing and press a button and that's it. Whereas I think it's far more complicated. It's a real job.
What is your most prized design possession? Very recently I bought a round marble table for my office, and I think it's one of the most beautiful objects I have. I bought it online, from someone whose husband had bought it in Italy; it's a limited edition by an Italian designer, but she wasn't able to tell me who. And when I saw it on the Internet, I knew I wanted it—I thought that I could never have designed it better myself.
What is exciting you in design right now? I'm very much excited, of course, by new objects and new uses—I think it helps us see the world differently.
If you could redesign anything, what would you choose? In France, there are many things to redesign. But I would love to redesign a car, because I think it's an object that used to be beautiful but today is no longer a place of real design expression.
What do you hope to be doing in ten years? I have no idea. I'm very serious when I say that. I have no real plans for the future except that I'm trying to be better each day. I try to design better and to improve, and I hope I will have some real projects that may change, in a sense, the world we live in. But, also, what I appreciate most in my job is to be surprised by the projects that are proposed to me. I think it's good to have plans but also to let it go—or to let it come.
Lastly, who's more fun to have a drink with: architects, industrial designers or graphic designers? I like my job and I like the people who do my job, in general. I find them interesting. But I also have lots of questions to ask architects. Because it's not the job I do and I'm very curious. I have an architect here in the office, and it's a different world, and I'm very much interested in those conversations. So I would choose an architect.