Among the maison’s earliest collaborators for the avant-garde project is Atelier Oï, whose Folding Stool and Hammock were part of the first Objets Nomades collection. Ingenious and elegant, the former is an origami-inspired leather seat that can be flattened for easy transportation, while the latter is a tour de force that takes the art of woven leather into a new dimension.
In the last decade since, the Swiss design studio has conceived more Objet Nomades, each as different as the next. There was the now-classic Belt Chair (2017) that features leather strips held in place by belt buckles, a collapsible hanging sofa called Swing Boat (2017), leather Origami Flowers (2018) for Petits Nomades, and the Serpentine Table (2019), inspired by the intricate, flowing movements of traditional dances. This year, Atelier Oï brought back its Belt Chair in a new reiteration as a lounge seat with a wooden frame.
As Louis Vuitton marks the 10th anniversary of Objets Nomades, Prestige talks to Aurel Aebi, Armand Louis and Patrick Reymond, the founding designers of Atelier Oï, about their collaboration journey with the venerable French luxury house, the alignment of brand values and their creative process.
What is Atelier Oï’s design ethos?
Storytelling is the key word for us – materials that tell a story. It allows us to navigate through scales. We are fortunate to learn through observation of artisans, curiosity and multiple meetings with our clients.
How did the collaboration between Louis Vuitton start?
Initially, we were invited to the Louis Vuitton family house and atelier in Asnières – the original “heart of Louis Vuitton”. We arrived at this family home with its fireplace in a private bubble far from the image of the big Louis Vuitton stores of the cities. It was a bit of a shock to see the image of Louis Vuitton as a family business. But it was indeed a family initiative and so it was also important for us to immerse ourselves in the place where it all began.
How does Atelier Oï relate to Louis Vuitton? How has your style melded with Louis Vuitton’s image and design sensibilities?
When we see the trunks and finished objects, it’s hard to comprehend all the work of Louis Vuitton artisans and all the savoir-faire needed to achieve these pieces. Seeing this changed the way we thought. Atelier Oï wanted to highlight what is the key to nomadic objects – the bridge between materials and artisans, the relationships that continue and the fusion of a common work.
Can you share more about the process in designing for Objets Nomads?
Everything starts from an emotional experience. We test, refine, then we define a context which leads to experimentation, a tactile experience, a definition of a story.
What is a common design thread across the pieces you’ve designed for Louis Vuitton?
The main element that ties it all together is the use of leather as a structural element, an innovation where leather is not just the covering of a piece of furniture. But it was the research for the hammock project that put us on this track.
Is there a signature atelier oï element in all of the Objets Nomades pieces?
Fascination with the transformation of the material and the stories behind each project.
How different is a purely atelier oï piece and an Objets Nomades piece?
Our process is not different, the hand of the designer follows the logic of the materials and not the opposite. This way to work with materials and stories allowed us to play with our living archive of materials and structure on other projects and transformation into different scales – from architecture to object, from object to space.
Name the Objets Nomades piece that is most challenging to construct.
The Hammock is the result of Louis Vuitton’s savoir-faire and of Atelier Oï’s research around the shaping of textile strips and mesh. We decided to translate our entire research into leather. It was a structure born out of torsion, weaving, pinching and pleating.
Who are the Atelier Oï Objets Nomads pieces designed for?
We create objects with stories that inspire us, and we would like the user to discover the pieces in this way and allow themselves to dream through these pieces. The idea is that of a journey – these extraordinary objects being a mental and emotional journey
Tell us more about the latest Objets Nomades.
The Belt Chair is a work of leather that through tension creates the three-dimensional. From this principle, we have realised it in all sizes for various uses. The lounge chair uses, for the first time, wood as a base which is more stable instead of the classic metal structure.