Manutti’s & Lionel Doyen’s intersecting paths
Manutti strives for long-term relationships and resolutely selects designers who complement its own attitude, both from a professional and a personal point of view. The collaboration with French design Lionel Doyen illustrates this perfectly with two consecutive successful collections: KUMO (2016) and SAN (2017). Read more details here about how our paths have crossed, how we work together and what drives us.
When and how did you meet?
Jérôme Prudhomme | Manutti Creative Director (left) Our collaboration with the designer Lionel Doyen began in 2013. At our first meeting, we discussed our respective views regarding possible creations and our ambition for the Manutti brand. We shared a passion for design, technique and attention to detail, and we wanted to create an iconic new piece that would embody this creative renewal of the brand. Lionel immediately began working on a new seating unit that would be available for both contractual customers and the residential sector. Kumo inspired love at first sight! He has perfectly conveyed the identity and inspirations of the brand.
Lionel Doyen | Designer (right) We met at Maison et Objet in 2013, where I went to present a work for the Dickson-Constant brand. Quite soon, I realised that we had the same expectations and aspirations. The collaboration was established very soon afterwards, and I started to develop the Kumo range just a few months after our meeting.
What are the creative inspirations of Kumo and San?
JP With Kumo, we wanted a product that was as iconic as the Air collection. Air has been a real best-seller for Manutti, making an impression with its offbeat style and its seating that hovers delicately on its platform as though in levitation.
We wanted innovative designer furniture for both contract and residential, with a system of multifunctional, comfortable and ingeniously designed seating.
For San, the objective of this new seating was to confirm Manutti’s high-end expertise, but also to display new creative inspirations that were totally unprecedented for the brand. With its Japanese style, clean lines and fine materials, San can be used both by professionals and the general public, both outdoors and indoors.
LD It is often hard to define the original inspiration, as influences are limitless. Creativity is fed, consciously or unconsciously, by our experience, our encounters, our travels, our friends, our reading, our leisure and so on.
For Kumo, Manutti had asked me to think about a range of poufs, and I had it in mind to create a seating system that would be modular, in response both to the constraints of the residential market and the requirements of bespoke projects. We therefore devised an autonomous space, a kind of independent island.
San is the fruit of our second collaboration, and echoes the first. The intention of this new seating was to offer great flexibility of use while also having a product that was very different from the other collections. I wanted to create a piece that could be used and deployed on a modular basis in many different ways – that had the potential for personalisation.
© Lionel Doyen
What is Manutti seeking to achieve with this new design approach?
JP With San we wanted to free ourselves from the codes of outdoor design, to reinvigorate the existing collections, and to affirm a strong and iconic design in order to highlight Manutti’s high-end expertise. Today both demand and patterns of use have changed. Manutti wanted to respond to an intermediate demand, with a collection of furniture designed for smaller, more realistic spaces. Our goal is to work regularly with designers and other creative people, in order to develop new lines and introduce uses for furniture that have not previously been habitual.
LD The design aspect is intended to prompt reflection on changes and innovations. For some years now, there has definitely been a blurring of boundaries between outdoors (terrace, garden, balcony) and indoors (kitchen, living room and so on). People want some permeability! My creative ambition for Manutti is to break down distinctions between originally specific and separate uses.
What has the response been like to these two collections? Have they been well received by MANUTTI’s customers?
JP We have had very good feedback from our customers but also from new contacts. Kumo responds perfectly to market demand, whether professional or residential, and San has had clear success in major contractual projects at national and international level. This latest creation has consolidated Manutti’s image, affirming the brand’s high-end positioning and thus opening the door to new projects and new customers. Other collaborations with designers are also planned.
LD The feedback is so positive that we are already working on a third collection including a seating unit with wood finishing.