Julien Carretero, Product Designer

Julien Carretero’s work invites metaphor the way cheese fries beg to be eaten — make a bench that’s perfectly shaped in front and slowly morphs into chaos in back, and suddenly it could be about anything: humans’ ultimate lack of control over the universe, politics, the pressure to succeed, mullets. For the Paris-born, Eindhoven-based designer, though, it’s mostly just about one thing, which is making visible his experiments with creation. “A designer can’t just be a thinking head,” he writes in an artist’s statement. “The most important thing is to put a craftsman’s feeling into the fabrication process.”

To that end, Carretero has developed some fairly unique working methods, which is how he caught the eye of New York design arbiter Murray Moss. Two years ago, Moss fell for the aforementioned bench — his graduation project at the Design Academy Eindhoven — for the way it’s constructed in layers using a single mold that gets progressively distorted as it weakens from use. His Drag lights and vases, which made their American debut at the Moss store during ICFF last year, are sculpted in plaster in the same manner as ornamental cornices, their rough texture and imperfect seams exaggerated by a coat of super-saturated paint. In fact, it’s so important to Carretero that his objects be able to express themselves that he acts out their gestural feel before he ever sets foot in the workshop to fabricate them. As long as you get a sense of how they’re made, the why can be up to you.

What you keep around your studio for inspiration: Books. I try to read as much as I can. My library is divided into two categories: design- and art-related books in the studio, and literature and philosophy — mostly French — at home. I consider it very important as a designer to have a good knowledge of what’s been said before in the design world.

Favorite shop: I spend a lot of time in second-hand shops and dump yards. I could tell you which dump yard is the best in Eindhoven, but I’m not sure this information interests any of your readers.

Thing you love most about where you live: The freedom of being able to do what I love, and the fact that designers and artists can legally make use of empty buildings. That creates an amazing dynamic.

Thing you hate most about it: I can’t tell which gives me the hardest time: the weather, the food, or the language.

What a stranger who saw your work for the first time would say: The first thing strangers usually say when they see my work is: “May I touch it?” I consider this a very good sign.