Getting It Right

Emerging design entrepreneurs refine the art of finding and nurturing new work.

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What makes a great furniture company or design shop? There’s more to it than following trends—or even starting them. The best shops and companies feature curated collections that mix high and low, and bring new and relevant interpretations to reliable forms. Perhaps they incorporate craft without dismissing technology, or elevate luxury to a form of conceptual art. Maybe they design with an eye to the next generation, rather than just the next season. The people behind these brands and storefronts—some from design backgrounds, some not—tend to have a few things in common. They may wax philosophical about design, but they spend as much time with manufacturers and makers as with customers and critics. They give a lot of thought to the big picture, but they never stop sweating the details. Most of all, they excel at looking for talent, tirelessly and in unexpected places. Here are four important, up-and-coming companies that are getting it right.


LA CHANCE
Paris, France; Established 2011


Clockwise from top left: The Bolt Stool by Note Design Studio, which was introduced as part of Jekyll & Hyde, the premier La Chance collection; Podium candleholder by Jorge de la Cruz and Diana Vernaza Gonzenbach, with metal links that can be easily reconfigured; Tembo stool by  Note Design Studio, also part of the Jekyll & Hyde collection; The Tip Top table lamp  by Jonah Takagi, has two layers of glass at the top, with an aluminum base; The Magnum dining table, by Pierre Favresse, consists of wood or marble legs and tabletop, joined by a metal matrix underneath. 

Courtesy the designers or manufacturers

To hear Jean-Baptiste Souletie tell it, you might think he and Louise Breguet opened La Chance on a passing whim. “We launched a furniture and lighting company so we could show the work of friends, and see more design that we like,” he says. Scratch the surface, though, and it’s clear that Souletie is passionate about materials, manufacturing, and the underlying vision of the La Chance brand. That vision includes a rejection of the cheap thrill: “You don’t buy something that will be fun for two years, and then throw it out. Too much of design is disposable now.”

Both designers themselves, Breguet and Souletie met in December 2010. “It was a good match,” Souletie says. “We began to work together in January, and fifteen months later we were showing in Milan.” The La Chance method crystalized during one of their earliest projects, the Tembo stool designed by Stockholm-based Note Design Studio. Souletie says, “We saw the design on the Internet, and we contacted them and said, ‘That’s what we want. Are you ready to go into production?’” As La Chance has grown, they continue to work that way: “Either we spot design that we like, or we contact the designer and we give them a fee to design for us. We have a network of factories and are very involved in the manufacturing process. For us it’s all-natural materials: solid wood, marble, glass. No plastic at all. These pieces will age well; they’ll develop a patina.” 

 

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