An Interview with Joachim Jirou-Najou
Design open to experiences
Simplicity and attention to detail are of the utmost importance for Joachim Jirou-Najou. With a solid background in materials and manufacturing, this young designer has created the TIPI table for Habitat and it's a beautiful testament to his creativity and construction skills.
What's your background?
After graduating from ENSAD in Reims and the Arts Déco in Paris, I focused on furniture and object design working under the direction of designer Pierre Charpin. I was then resident designer at the Ateliers de Paris, while working towards opening my own studio. I've been working independently since 2012. Given my background, I'm involved in both the artistic and the design process - I like to be free to make choices!
How would you describe yourself in terms of today's design scene?
I take an open approach to design, I don't have any selection criteria. I'm just as happy to work on limited edition items or on pieces for mass-production. I'm particularly interested in the language of forms in a quest for timelessness i.e. simplicity and elegance paired with expertise. A preoccupation that goes hand in hand with my attention to detail. I try to design long-lasting objects especially for the furniture industry where notions of solidity and quality are a must.
Joachim Jirou-Najou. Multi-purpose moulded Tipi coffee tables: coffee table, end table, bedside table, etc. suitable for all furnished interiors. Colours: grey and green natural oak 2 sizes available.
Were you given a brief or free rein when you were asked to design a table for Habitat?
Free rein but remaining within the confines of a small piece of furniture. I wanted to make a satellite object, which I define as mobile, small, and easy to move from one place to another in order to save space. I'm inspired by changes in lifestyles and consequently I like to focus on uses. A table must fulfil its core function as a table but its design must feed our imagination in order for us to take ownership of it. The design also had to respect to a certain number of constraints. Design responses differ depending on whether its a personal project, a publishing project or a request from a brand with a certain market position to uphold.
What was your inspiration for the TIPI table?
I often base my designs on figurative objects. Here, I wanted to design a soft rounded object rather like a pebble. An object which would be both abstract and evocative, juxtaposing its solidness with a lighter side. I used a moulded wood technique that is used to make boat hulls. This type of layered construction - the layers of wood are successively applied and affixed to a mould - appears as shell or covering, which is both solid and light. The table - top and base - appear as a seamless object. At the side of the table you can see a small opening resembling the opening in a teepee but the table's name is actually based on initials - Table In Plywood Indoor!
If you were asked to design another piece for Habitat, what would you choose?
Dinnerware in white porcelain or a chair made from steel or moulded wood...
What are your views on design today?
We are in a transitional period, there's a lot of interest in vintage at the moment but this repetition doesn't bother me as creativity inevitably moves forward. I'm interested in new working methods, immersing myself in the role of designer and never being repetitive. And while functions don't change much, there's always the question of comfort, dimensions, materials, details - creativity!
What are you up to now?
Recently I was involved in designing scarves as part of a group project, which will be exhibited in Milan. I'm also involved in a design collective, which enhances my prospective work and provides me with an opportunity to exhibit my work through a variety of events: Designer’s Days, Galerie Bensimon, etc. and I'm currently involved in making metal furniture.