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Welcome to the world of Areti
Nest is delighted to welcome Areti into their growing lighting collection.
The design team consists of creative sister duo Guillane and Gwendolyn, who create wonderfully unique designs that are stylish and practical. The duo began designing for Areti in 2008 after lengthy experience in architecture and design practices all over the world. Areti is predominantly based in London in the UK, but the team also work with skilled craftsmen and manufacturers in Sweden and Germany.
Last week we had the pleasure of interviewing Guillane and Gwendolyn, and we are pleased to share our conversation with you guys today. The duo answered our questions on why they started their own practice, what their favourite items are and what a typical day is like at Areti – read below for the full, insightful interview.
Both of you had careers before starting Atelier Areti – what made you want to set up your own design practice?
It’s important to have worked for other people before you set up your own practice. You can learn from the way others approach design, manage a project, manage an office etc. When you work for an already well established office, you also get to work on large complex projects, which is of course exciting and a great learning ground. But there comes a point where you’ve done similar things several times and you feel that you are not learning as much anymore.
Most importantly though, when you design for someone else, you don’t have the last word! We’ve both been lucky to have been given a good amount of responsibility and freedom, but there is always a limit. And at some point, your desire to get the design exactly how you want it becomes so strong, that you take the risk to do it on your own. But when you start your own practice, you usually start working on much smaller projects than when you were employed – but that’s not a bad thing. When you have your own practice, all of a sudden you are dealing with a lot more than just design, and so it’s good that you start small scale.
While before we worked on larger architectural and interior architecture projects as well as urban design, currently we focus solely on objects – lights and furniture.
Areti’s first lighting collection was inspired by Guillane’s final year project at Central St. Martins – can you tell us a bit more about this please?
We were asked to work with glass as a material. The idea for this project was to explore the way glass reflects and absorbs light depending on the type of glass. There was thus an inner sphere made of frosted glass and outer sphere made of clear crystal glass. The inner sphere acted as a diffuser to spread the light evenly and reduce the glare. The refracted light was then ‘captured’ so to speak by the surface of the crystal glass, thus emphasizing the exceptional clarity and shine of this material. We were convinced of the first prototype and decided to develop it further by engraving simple patterns into the outer surface. ‘Simple’ turned out to be not as simple as first thought – engraving straight lines on a round surface proved to be difficult. As is often the case with ‘simple looking’ designs, they are actually very intricate when it comes to the details of fabrication.
You have both lived in numerous places through your work, do you have a favourite city?
Neither of us really has a favorite city. Every city has its charm and its drawbacks. For everyday living I (Gwendolyn) quite like Amsterdam or Berlin. For the occasional visit I can name many places! As an architect I of course love Paris, NY, Rome – the usual suspects. I (Guillane) used to live in Paris and it is still a special place for me, the beauty of it still touches me every time I go. I also like Milan a lot and of course London, mainly for its diversity and open-mindedness.
The Areti Alouette Light has been popular with the Nest customers, do you have a personal favourite design from your collection?
Our favorites tend to be our latest designs, simply because we get very excited about projects while we work on them. At the moment these include the Squares or Mimosa lamp for example, but also our yet-to-be-released new designs! We are also quite attached to our first designs such as the Kirchschlag or the Alouette because we started out with them.
How has growing up in Austria inspired your designs?
To be honest we’ve never thought about that. Probably what has inspired us more is the fact that we have lived in many different places and thus are not attached to any particular ‘style’. We’ve always been a ‘foreigner’, so to speak. When we lived in Austria we were considered (and considered ourselves, as one often defines oneself by difference), French because we spoke French at home. When we lived in Germany we were Austrian because we came with an Austrian accent. When we lived in France we were German, because that’s where we had gone to high school and when we were in the US, we were simply considered European. Coming to a foreign place allows you to look at everything from politics to culture with curious eyes. We’ve learned from each place we lived in, not just regarding design – it’s been at times stressful, but overall an enriching experience.
Can you describe a typical day at Atelier Areti for us?
There is no typical day! As we work in different places (London and Frankfurt), we communicate by Skype. Every one or two months we meet in person to work together more intensely. We design in a rather old fashioned way. We sketch an idea and usually, the end product is rather close to that initial sketch. We of course do detail drawings, make models and have to adjust the design as we work on the prototypes with the manufacturer – but generally speaking, the first sketch already contains the essence of the project. What we really enjoy is that by setting up our studio, the two of us can work together. While there is some friction of course, as is the case any time two people work together, it’s quite minimal. We have similar ideas about art and design and that makes working together a pleasure because there is an inherent understanding and most energy is put into pushing a project further rather than having to convince the other person of ones own opinion. So it doesn’t matter who comes up with the first sketch or idea for a project, most of the time, we end up both being convinced by it and developing it further or dropping it. While this sounds like quite a plain statement and one would assume partners always work like this, we know from past experience, that this is not to be taken for granted.
You can shop our full Areti collection online now.