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Meet the French family

Anglo-Dutch design duo Studio Glithero launch a family of one-off pieces, Les French, at Gallery Fumi in London’s East End.

By Katie Dominy / 08-04-2009

Studio Glithero was founded by Sarah van Gameren and Tim Simpson, who met whilst studying at the Royal College of Art, London. Les French began with a single piece of furniture commissioned by a French family, who follow and buy work from the studio.

When this sole piece grew into a collection, the duo decided to give it a name recording its starting point and have titled all the works after famous French expressions, such as Déjà vu and Enfant Terrible. The collection is currently on show at Gallery Fumi in London.

Les French is a group of one-off pieces in bronze and gum paper strips. The project happens in two parts. Firstly, Studio Glithero assemble one-off ‘structures’ in bamboo, tying the joints together with string. These frames are put through a loss-material casting process at a bronze foundry, turning the fragile and spindly bamboo into cast bronze. Once the bronze frames are back from the foundry, the design duo builds functional ‘tops’ to the pieces, working without a brief – designing as they make. The tops are made from a lightweight material wrapped in gum-paper strips. The strips are then given an invisible matt lacquer finish.

"Normally, the process would be the most important part and we would start designing without being too preoccupied with what eventually results from it", says Van Gameren. "This, however, was the first time the functional volume was the starting-point. We simply lifted cardboard volumes off the ground using bamboo and string. The challenge became to keep the end product as close to our prototype as possible, to still show the moment of its first existence.”

How did the relationship with Gallery Fumi begin? “We met the gallery owners in Milan last year. The nice thing about them is that they are a brand new partnership like us, which means that both parties very enthusiastic about design and still believe anything is possible.”

For the studio, creating one-off pieces was more an issue of practicality than exclusivity. “We don't believe in creating limitations to the production of our pieces without having a good reason other then to push up their value. This furniture series was meant to be one-off in the true sense of the word. The choice of techniques makes it impossible to repeat the design.”

“We hope the pieces will find a person that fits with their identity and I'm sure they will because it seems the customers are very particular about their favourite piece. In the best scenario it would be a fit in appearance or character, like people tend to have with their dogs.”

And their own favourites? “Tim's favourite is Coup de Grâce, because it looks like a sculptured stone on legs. My favourite is Ménage à Trois because we've sculpted it in a way you would work on a dress or a clay artwork and its head is out of proportion.”

Les French
3 April 3 until 7 June 2009
Gallery Fumi, 87-89 Tabernacle street, London EC2

Photography: Melissa Duarte

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