After inaugurating his by appointment only Galerie Privée Pierre Gonalons space in Paris this fall – ideally located between the Louvre Museum and La Samaritaine department store – imagined as a small 18th-century apartment, Pierre Gonalons has just launched his new gallery in the prestigious D&D Building on Third Avenue in New York City, in partnership with Ronit Anderson. Inspired by the decorative arts of yesterday, the Paris-based designer and interior architect aims to reinvent shapes with bold colors, exceptional materials and artisanal savoir-faire to propose a rich and refined art of living, adapted to today’s world. He shares his process and why he produces furniture under his own brand name.
Describe your creative process from the time a client commissions you to the final design. How do you start and what aspect do you start with?
When I receive a commission for a product or a space, it could be strange to say it, but I usually have like a vision, at least a feeling, of what it could become, or the direction it should take. After that, I conduct in-depth research on different aspects or historic levels about it. Then I make mood boards and sketches explaining these thoughts to my team. During the process, a lot of new ideas appear that change the direction in a constructive way. I am very aware about what daily life brings by chance to the studio.
How do you help your clients discover their personal design esthetic and transform their vision into reality while incorporating your own style? How much freedom do you have to incorporate your own design language and approach into the interiors?
Each client is different and each project has its own frame. I mean that sometimes a client comes with a lot of desires and sometimes none. I imagine that people approach me searching for a strong creative expression, a global vision to offer themselves, but also breathtaking ideas they don’t find elsewhere. I am not someone who duplicates a recipe, but I always try to find the alchemy between the client, the place and the space.
Why did you decide to launch your own line of furniture, lighting and objects in 2004 through your company Ascète and limited editions through Pierre Gonalons Éditions in 2015, who are the craftsmen you work with to manufacture them and what kind of customers are they targeted at?
I began my career by launching a company under the name Ascète in 2004, which still exists. Since 2015, I have worked under my name Pierre Gonalons either for interior or product design; the pieces produced are mostly limited editions or very high-end products in terms of creativity and quality. These creations are available through my gallery opened in 2019 in the heart of Paris at 16 Passage Véro-Dodat. I work with a lot of craftsmen in France and abroad, particularly in Italy. I don’t design to target a specific type of client, simply because I would not know how. I try to make my dream of an ideal beauty come true through furniture and objects, and hope that people can catch some parts of it that speak to them.
What do you like about self-producing versus working with well-known furniture brands?
I like either designing for my own collections or for furniture brands as well. These are two different approaches and both are very interesting. Self-producing is a very free way of working, but it requires a lot of experience to be effective. Working for others is very enriching in terms of conceptualization, efficiency and human relations.