October 22, 2023

In Conversation with Passage, French Brand Bridging the Gap Between Furniture and Fashion

Author: Radmila Durasinovic
Tags: Design / Interview Category: magazine

In Conversation with Passage, French Brand Bridging the Gap Between Furniture and Fashion

Positioned at the intersection of furniture and fashion, Arthur Fosse and Samuel Perhirin stand as exemplars of a new generation focused on the creativity of interdisciplinary and sustainable design. The French duo’s journey began while studying design at the seminal ÉCAL in Switzerland, and has since led them to the founding of their own creative practice Passage, producing furniture and textile pieces that reflect their commitment to French craftsmanship and responsible production. From their debut showcase at the Clavé Fine Art gallery in 2022, to the recent acquisition of their la grande perche floor lamp by the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design in Bordeaux, Passage's rise has been nothing short of remarkable. Their approach has earned them the Rising Talent Award at this year’s Maison&Objet, a reflection of the growing recognition of their work to date. In this interview, the duo discuss their experience from the recent French design fair and reveal more about their design philosophy, which has firmly established Passage as an emerging design brand shaping the future of the industry. 

Cover image / Samuel Perhirin (left) and Arthur Fosse (right), founders of Passage, 2023 © Igor Pjörrt.



Passage's launch in September 2022 at the Clavé Fine Art gallery, renovated in 2016 by architect Kengo Kuma © Passage

DD: Firstly, congratulations on being awarded at this year's M&O! Can you share your experience showcasing your work at Maison&Objet? What were your key takeaways from participating in such a prestigious event and how do you plan to build on this recognition? 

Passage: Participating in Maison&Objet and receiving the Rising Talent award has been an incredible experience for us. It's truly humbling to receive such recognition just one year after launching Passage. Meeting a diverse range of people, from journalists and architects to fellow designers and design enthusiasts, was truly enriching. It was fascinating to engage in discussions and exchange ideas with such a varied audience. One key takeaway was the positive feedback we received, not only on our design concepts but also on our pricing strategy as we prepare to launch our furniture pieces. Furthermore, being surrounded by young French talents at the event was inspiring and allowed us to build valuable connections within the design community.

DD: Your work bridges the gap between fashion and furniture — could you elaborate on the link between these fields and how they come together in your work? Do your knowledge and values in one field influence your work in the other, or is there a common thread or underlying principle that you apply to both?

Passage: Absolutely, the synergy between fashion and furniture is at the heart of our creative approach. We see these two realms as interconnected expressions of design where textile pieces aim for increased longevity, while furniture gains a touch of whimsy. To illustrate this connection, we focus on shared elements like construction details, colour palettes, and sources of inspiration, particularly drawing from the maritime world, which serves as a central theme in our work. A striking example of this fusion can be found in our marketing campaigns, where we present fashion and furniture as part of a cohesive, storytelling narrative. Our collaboration with photographer Igor Pjorrt beautifully captures this idea.

Passage panoramic campaign shot, 2022 © Igor Pjörrt

DD: Which do you find to be more technical, and which allows you greater freedom and creativity — furniture or fashion design?

Passage: We both have a background in furniture design, which has given us a solid foundation in design and production, enabling us to develop an innovative practice that combines creativity and responsibility. However, we don't see one as more technical than the other. Instead, we strive to create a seamless creative process that applies to both furniture and fashion. Whether it's clothing or objects, our approach revolves around structures and volumes. We believe that this shared perspective allows us to push the boundaries of creativity in both fields. It's not about favouring one over the other; it's about finding harmony between them.

DD: What would you consider your most significant design project to date? 

Passage: Without a doubt, our most significant design is our triomphe mirror. This statement piece perfectly embodies the bridge between fashion and furniture that defines Passage. This two-sided mirror creates a captivating illusion of a passage, challenging the viewer's perception. We aimed to achieve a seamless ribbon-like frame around the mirrors creating a captivating illusion of depth. This presented a considerable challenge, both in terms of design and production. Observing visitors drawn to it, moving closer to explore the details, and witnessing their intrigue was incredibly gratifying.

Irish green triomphe mirror from the Passage furniture collection © Igor Pjörrt

DD: If you had to choose one object, historical or contemporary, that embodies the essence of "design excellence" as you view it, what would it be?

Passage: It would undoubtedly be Jasper Morrison's 'Thinking Man's Lounge Chair,' introduced by Cappellini in 1988. This chair effortlessly combines functionality with layers of meaning. First, there's the name itself. It cleverly alludes to Rodin's famous sculpture, adding an artistic dimension while elevating a simple chair to a place of reflection. What truly sets this piece apart is its transparency about the design process. The production measurements incorporated into the finishing allow users to playfully peek behind the scenes, revealing the craftsmanship and thoughtful design that went into creating it. Objects like this one go beyond mere function; they possess a distinct identity and are charmingly designed. It's for us a timeless example of how furniture can elevate the everyday.

Jasper Morrison's Thinking Man's Chair prototype with handwritten dimensions, later produced by Cappellini © James Mortimer

DD: As a designer in today's fast-paced world, it's important to stay up-to-date with current trends and technologies. Could you discuss any design trends or developments that you find exciting? What trends or innovations do you see emerging in the industry in the next few years?

Passage: In today's dynamic design landscape, it's crucial to remain in tune with current tools, technologies, and environmental considerations. At Passage, our primary focus is on crafting timeless designs. This core principle drives and motivates us. While trends can be exciting, our commitment to longevity and ethical production often means we don't necessarily follow them. Instead, we aim to create pieces with enduring functionality and aesthetics, ensuring that they stand the test of time.

First limited edition of la grande perche floor lamp, crafted in France © Passage
Artisan Victor Stokowski hand-blowing the glass globe of la grande perche © Passage / 213 Media

DD: As your careers are founded on an interdisciplinary approach to design, do you plan on expanding your experience in furniture and fashion to another field in the future? How do you see your design practice evolving over the years?

Passage: While Passage primarily focuses on bridging the gap between fashion and furniture design, as a creative duo, we're increasingly drawn to exploring new horizons and breaking boundaries. We're open to expanding our design practice into various interdisciplinary projects. In fact, we often find ourselves in roles as creative directors, where we can leverage our design sensibilities and pragmatic problem-solving approach across different fields, implementing compelling narratives along the way.

October 22, 2023 Author: Radmila Durasinovic
Tags: Design / Interview Category: magazine

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