When she talks about design, Ionna Vautrin brings up sensitivity. She received the Grand Prix de la Création de la Ville de Paris (Prize for Creation of the City of Paris) in 2011, and since then she has kept collaborating with the most prominent publishing houses: Lexon, Moustache and even Foscarini. It is simple, functional and surprising. The design Ionna Vautrin makes is without austerity, fun and full of humour. Maybe her broad smile and laughing eyes explain the joyful impression which emerges in her colourful creations, full of curves and roundness. Spontaneous and intuitive, Ionna Vautrin creates objects like characters who inhabit a soft, feminine and poetic world. She never runs out of ideas and imagines costumes for children or suddenly becomes successful illustrator. We met a passionate person, who has never hesitated to guide us from her place to her studio.
Ionna, can you introduce yourself?
I am an industrial designer and sometimes an illustrator. I studied in Nantes Atlantique design school. When I got my diploma, I went to live in Spain for a year and worked for Camper, for which I drew shoes. I then went to Milan where I create for George J. Sowden, and then I came back to Paris. I worked for the agency Cent degrés, and then at Bouroullec, where I have worked for 5 years. It was fascinating, I drew so many different things, from furniture and lights to shoes. Eventually, I started my own studio already 5 years ago.
What is an industrial designer?
It is someone who draws objects, from small to large series. It can be a project for a gallery, in 8 copies, or, for example, the Binic lamp I made for Foscarini and which was distributed in at least 88 countries. It is a complex job: you must combine a creative sensitivity to every material constraint, such as the constraints of fabrication, use, etc. Sometimes I work from very precise briefs, and some other times I almost have free rein, like for the partnership I made with Lexon design, for the creation of the Mezzo Radio.
What did make you want to do this?
At the beginning, I was hesitating between design and cooking. In order not to be frustrated, I anyway took my NVQ thanks to evening courses. I have always been very manual. I have done pottery for about 10 years: the taste of making objects probably comes from this.
How would you define your style?
Well, it is complicated! Organic, geometrical, with rather generous and round shapes but also very precise lines. I sometimes refer to other objects. The Binic lamp, for example, reminds the windsocks on boats.
This year, I had an exhibition of erotic drawings. The funny part is that the characters are a little linked to the objects I already made.
Do you have preferences in terms of materials for your objects?
No, not particularly, but I like the ones which enable rather free shapes, such as plastic and ceramics.
What does inspire you?
The sculptural and floral worlds inspire me. I love the Art Nouveau and Art Deco, and Noguchi sculptures. It depends. There are many inspiring things. I really like the Italian designer Ettore Sottsass, who was a very complete person: a true theoretician, a designer and an architect. He worked a lot on colour and could do ceramics as he did architecture. He was a fascinating and all-rounder person.
You take part in a lot of projects. Could you tell us about it?
This year, I had an exhibition of erotic drawings, 100 sketches I made with thin felt pens. The funny part is that the characters are a little linked to the objects I already made, that is to say with a fragile body, a very big head, a lot of curves with some touches of humour! In another field, I made disguises for children for a workshop in the Cartier Foundation, for the exhibition “Le Grand Orchestre des Animaux”. I also made disguises in Saint-Etienne, but this time it was in the Design Biennale in 2015, for which I was offered to be the curator for the space dedicated to children. For this edition, we had created a great bestiary in screen-printed paper with creators from all fields: comics, illustrators, industrial designers and graphic designers. The exhibition worked pretty well because she then went to New York, Singapore, Boston and Paris. I don’t refrain me from doing non-functional objects, such as the two birds in my office. I feel I have something with animals these times!
In your home, what are the design pieces you prefer?
There are actually a lot of things, it is hard to choose. I have a vase by Ettore Sottsass “The Whistle”, a lamp by Castiglioni “La Parentesi”, and the “Yanagi” stool which is in my office. I have a lot of pieces by Bouroullec as well.
Credits: Eve Campestrini @thesocialitefamily