The Secret of Good Design: Danger and Curiosity

Interview by Anton D. Javier
Photos courtesy of Proof Living
25 Jul 2017

The Jean-Louis Deniot collection from furniture brand Baker recently hit Singapore's shores. Get to know a little more about the talented designer in this exclusive interview

Celebrated French designer, Jean-Louis Deniot, has teamed up with Baker on an impressive collection of furniture and decor, perfect for the homes of today's discerning and stylish homeowners. Now, meet the man behind the range.

Can you paint us a picture of how the collaboration with furniture brand Baker came about? What are some of the values that you both share that makes this partnership a good match?

I discovered Baker when I spent a lot of time in New York, 15 years ago. I was amazed by the showroom at the design center and it felt larger than life, very generous, and was commercially very appealing and attractive. Since then, it has been at the back of my mind to create a line for Baker, and did not expect it would happen this quickly, but I am thrilled. Baker and I are a perfect match — I could not dream of a better collaboration. 

We started this collection with over 300 drawings and we narrowed it down again and again, to an essential selection. There is a real variety of finishes too that allows buyers to fully personalize their purchases and adapt them to their environments and existing decors. 

All in all, it took two years: From the first drawings to the first launch, and it is super exciting to see it finally come together. I cannot wait to start brainstorming and accumulating ideas for the next collection!

You once said in an interview that there was something missing in the furniture market – what was it and how do you see this range filling that gap?

I suppose with some confidence and knowledge of exactly what is available in the furniture market (and what is not), you can create what is missing. In the furnishing business, so many ideas have already been done. Therefore, the constant challenge is to create something that does not exist — something new that people will actually buy! You need design strength, but you cannot be hyperconscious either.

In a way, inspiration generally comes from a place of curiosity and danger. You have to be really curious to explore, prospects coming from within and from your environment, which lead ‎you to take risks. There is no good design without excitement. That said, Baker gave me all the tools and put so much confidence, energy, and trust into developing this new line.

If someone did not have the luxury of space and could only have a limited number of pieces from the collection, what would these must-haves be?

I love all of the pieces with metallic accents, because they catch the light and shine. It's like jewelry for furnishing. My other favorite pieces are the lighting. I love that spoon shaped lamp with the alabaster heart. It almost reminds me of a peacock feather. Otherwise, it’s quite hard to choose only one piece when I love so many, it is like choosing your favorite child!

Homeowners these days are more discerning when it comes to home décor and favor authenticity over a cookie-cutter look for interiors. How do you see pieces from the JLD collection fitting into a home that already has a defined look/personality?

As a furniture addict myself, I am very aware of the furnishing market. I knew what was missing, so I developed my ideal ensemble for Baker. My line for Baker really represents my aesthetic and lifestyle, so I am thrilled to share it on this scale. I’m always drawn to soft pale colors, greys, antique golds, ivories with touches of ebony and white: Combinations that create a serene, layered, and sophisticated feeling. The look is lush, and for all of its sophistication it stays humble.

My line of fabrics and rugs were conceived in a synergy with the furniture and lighting, to complement and extend them with natural patterns, which react differently depending on the textures and colors. Some are made to be moody, others to be bright and fresh.

As for the entire collection, it is a link between contemporary and vintage/antiques pieces, created to look fresh with the ability to seamlessly blend with existing furnishing. The range is not about being obliged to get the total look, but for each client to fall in love with one or two pieces and treasure it with their other favorite pieces. And as for interior designers, I know how hard it is to find good night stands, great lighting, and extra large coffee tables in the market. Therefore, this range is a great working tool that they can use to fit in their own design and personalize each piece through the large variations of finishes.

"The range is not about being obliged to get the total look, but for each client to fall in love with one or two pieces and treasure it with their other favorite pieces." - Jean-Louis Deniot

Homeowners and consumers are also buying their furniture in very different ways these days, especially with the rise of e-commerce. What is your take on the rising trend of e-commerce versus shopping for items physically? Does this affect your creative process in any way?

As I am working in more than 15 countries, e-commerce is a great way for me to source everything from a distance, to stay aware of all new collections, see furniture from Miami, New York, L.A., Paris and everywhere in between. It facilitates, it simplifies, it multiplies our options, it keeps everything running from every point on the globe! E-commerce has become very common, and has helped people become comfortable purchasing things based only on pictures, which is great! 

What role does social media play in your personal brand, especially now that buyers are looking to places like blogs, Instagram, and Pinterest, among others, for inspiration?

I search online a lot, to find components that I can translate in my own way — whether it's a particular picture or anything that defines color and texture! I also travel a lot internationally, taking planes almost every week and going to different continents. Travel is an amazing source of inspirations. And when you get exposed to so many different vibes, so many different traditions and cultures, so many various aesthetic vocabularies, your mind keeps being captivated and opened.

I snap photos of all kinds of inspirational elements with my phone when I’m traveling. I draw inspiration from fashion, art, architecture, past projects, nature, ‎music… I find beauty everywhere.

Therefore, I think social media is a great tool. Pinterest is such a great bank of images. When I first joined a few years ago, I was pleasantly surprised and honored to discover many pictures of my work. Although I don’t post any content on Instagram, I love seeing all the great posts and encouraging comments under the hashtag #jeanlouisdeniot. I like exploring Instagram to see what’s going on, with galleries, artists, other designers, furniture retailers… but I am not interested in any kind of interaction, as I think it kills a part of the mystery and it makes everything too accessible. I do not want to share my secret recipes and inspirations.

If you could get any celebrity or influential person to be the face of this collection, who would it be and why?

It would be an improbable couple, like Katy Perry and Emmanuel Macron! The former is a longtime friend of mine. She’s a super-smart, fun, mega-talented, and beautiful girl from the inside out. And of course our President, as I am proud to have such a charismatic, young, president representing France.

My collection is a bit of a mix of both vibes and both worlds: California for its cool attitude and France for chicness and style.


The Jean-Louis Deniot Collection for Baker is exclusively available at Proof Living, #04-16, ION Orchard