When meeting with Guillaume Alan, one immediately understands why his favorite motto reads: “Simplicity is complexity resolved”, a famous quote attributed to Brancusi. Since his beginnings, the French designer has been obsessed with bringing minimalism to new heights, trying to prove that less is truly more.
His most recent and globally praised achievement is a Parisian apartment that has been featured in every international publication, journalists and readers alike all were fascinated by a breathtaking interior stripped to its bare essence and then sculpted with light.
Guillaume Alan’s mastering of minimalism and timeless elegance, have inspired him a beautiful range of designs, which will be sold exclusively on The Invisible Collection.
We asked him to share with us some insights into his career and his work:
How did you start?
Well, my father was an architect, my mother an interior designer and my grandmother an antique dealer… one can safely assume that I grew up in a design-oriented environment. However, to be honest, I cannot say I wanted to follow my family’s path. I just wanted to create something that I loved. So, at barely 22, I opened my own studio in Paris: I knew what I wanted.
You immediately designed a very successful furniture collection
Yes, I was lucky that people understood my vision and appreciated my aesthetics. I don’t follow trends, I don’t favor eye-catching designs, I’m not after the easy wow-effect. My work is really about embracing a project as a whole, and then subtract instead of adding, and then sculpting with light.
You’re also known for a very specific, very subtle, palette of colours, often bespoke
Yes, what I love about the more neutral nuances is that you can really transform them with the use of light. You look at a sofa and it’s a certain shade of grey, but then, when you look at it from a different angle, it’s yet a new hue, it vibrates, but in a very subtle way.
After Paris, you opened a studio in London too…
Yes, in Mayfair. It was interesting for me to tap into two different realities: the Parisian classicism, and London’s cutting edge. Both are creative cities that inspire me, each in a different way.
Can you tell us about the pieces of furniture available on the invisible collection?
I’m very fond of the Neo Sofa that I designed in 2002. Its beauty is in all the details such as the hand-sewn stitches on the leather and the well-balanced wooden base. I’m very proud that this sofa was auctioned during an important 20thcentury design sale, and I was the only “living” designer in the catalogue… I was so proud to be in such great company with all the great masters of the past century and be able to witness such a special moment.
In the Neo Collection, there is the Neo Armchair
It’s such a refined yet strong piece, where the form follows the function. I designed it with a specific décor in mind, picturing how it blends into the space and yet defines it. This armchair can be ordered to measure, like most of my designs.
Speaking of which, you created a collection of bespoke textiles:
Yes, I called it Savile Row, as my London studio is just round the corner from that temple of tailoring and amazing fabrics. I wanted some specific satin wool and cashmere and I was lucky enough to meet a Scottish family who’s been running a textile mill for generations.
Do they manufacture all the fabrics?
No, just the wool and the cashmere. The linen and the silk are manufactured in Toscany.
What is your approach when starting a new project?
My goal is to conceive the project as a whole, and therefore I design everything. I could try the “easy way” and decorate the space with a mix of pieces of furniture handpicked on a catalogue… but that’s not me. I often think of Tadao Ando, a true master in my opinion, an architect I admire and revere: he was a carpenter, and carved wood. I think of him when I look at myself, and my starting point is always an objet as a whole. It can be a small piece or a big house, the principle is the same.
There is little to no colour in your décors, can you explain why?
I favour serene atmospheres, it’s all about gradient shades and I always love to see how the palette waves through different supports. I truly believe that the décor has to unveil little by little; the feeling and the mood of the space must vibrate through a delicate sequence of neutral hues that subtly change. A beautiful space must leave some room for the mind to wander.
What do you like about the invisible collection?
First, I really appreciate the human connection with Isabelle and Anna, the founders. We share a common love for beautiful things, savoir-faire and excellence. And I appreciate the curatorial eye and the attention to detail. I’m proud that my work will be included in their selection.