Cèpe by Sylvain Willenz
Sylvain Willenz has designed the first Arrmet brand collection of large upholstered items, a family of four poufs whose shape was inspired by the cep mushroom. The extremely simple Cèpe poufs comprise just a stem and caps in increasing diameters. Available in four sizes, these versatile poufs convert into surface space or informal seating elements, depending on the setting in which they are used. The archetypal shape of Cèpe also offers a practical advantage: the slightly recessed base ensures that even the palest of fabrics stay clean for longer.
The creation of the first collection of upholstered poufs went hand in hand with an in-depth reconsideration of the technical and aesthetic qualities of the upholstery. The result was a complete review of the fabric swatch card, which has seen the introduction of nine products from the Danish Kvadrat brand, known throughout the world for its innovative design and focus on uncompromising quality. The woollen and velvet fabrics chosen for the new collection are already available for the 2020 new entries and will be extended to the entire Arrmet catalogue in September.
«Perfect simplicity also requires perfect execution»
Q. Your versatile style is able to perfectly align with the character and nature of the companies with which you work, what were the greatest affinities that you found working with Arrmet?
A. I like to have a simple yet sophisticated style, minimal, yet graphic and subtle. The Cèpe are a true example of my line… they feel familiar and evident, but they’re new. For me it is important to bring in small yet clever details, through clear ideas… I feel this makes for durable and classic products. With Cèpe for example, it is this subtle inset on the bottom half of the product that enables it to stay clean and unmarked by one’s shoes. The art directors at Arrmet saw a link between my style and the expression of the brand. There is a liking and appreciation for simple and pure furniture with some characteristic details. I must say that beyond design, one of the most important affinities was affinity itself on the human level. It has been a pleasure and warm experience developing this collection with the people at Arrmet.
Q. Cèpe represents a debut into the world of large upholstered items for Arrmet. It takes place at the same time as an important, in-depth reinterpretation of the entire range of fabrics proposed by the Company. How important is the research of materials within the design process?
A. Very important. There always comes a moment in the design process when everything must make sense. Cèpe is a really simple piece in appearance… and like most simple things, is not so easy to realise… because perfect simplicity requires perfect execution. And also clever solutions. So beyond its look, Cèpe was not easy to make. We had to carefully consider how make such nice curves, how the stitches would work on the subtle curves and silhouette, how to intelligently integrate the upholstery, zippers, framework, assembly, small feet, production costs, etc. Every time I think I’ve come up with a simple design, I realise it is a lot more complicated to make than I thought.
Q. Cèpe is an informal collection of upholstered items that can be used in many different ways. In which interior projects do you see the new poufs positioned?
A. I see the Cèpe poufs being used in all sorts of places. Of course, they are well suited for large open space offices and lobbies, like islands where one can have a temporary seat and work or relax. But I also see them working well at home, in a large living room, in front of a sofa, or to complement a coffee-table, like a central point in a room. I can also imagine them being used in groups, mixing the small and the bigger ones as well as colours, just like mushrooms in nature.
Q. What is design for you? How do you balance creativity – craftsmanship – vision – know-how – experience – market demand ?
A. That’s a big question. In fact all of these things come into the equation, and the answer is the design must be the right one… it’s a fine balance of so many factors and parameters. In the end it is also very much, if not mainly, about sharing passion; that of the Company, the art directors, the makers, and my vision or idea… because everyone is contributing and inputting their knowledge, craftsmanship, ideas, and clever tricks. Design isn’t about having great ideas or drawing well… it’s a lot to do with people working together, and when it’s done with pleasure, it’s a success.
Technical focus on the collection
Cèpe is a collection of four poufs created by joining polyurethane foam to a wooden frame, then covering this with fabric. Available in four sizes – in diameters of 55, 65, 90 and 120 cm – coherent arrangements can be created by mixing and matching multiple poufs in different colours and sizes. Cèpe can be used in all contract settings, either on its own or combined with other elements, to provide an additional stool for placing next to a table in a bar or a desk for quick meetings, informal seating in waiting rooms, a practical surface for placing items on in store fitting rooms and much more.