With a portfolio of work such as pleated textile cabinets and ballooning Tyvek lamps, it might be said that Inga Sempé's aesthetic has a touch of whimsy about it. Her sofas extend an invitation to curl up and stay a while, a reflection of their understated opulence and evident hospitality, yet Sempé takes a straightforward approach to materials and techniques while displaying a reluctance to buy into any design world star-making machinery. This French creator seems as enigmatic as her Trame mirror.
Oesterlen chair for Gärsnäs detail
What can you tell us about your plans for 2011? Are you releasing any new designs soon?
I just showed with Ligne Roset beds which are linked to the Ruché Sofa with a wooden frame and a quilted headboard, that allows to sit, work, read or watch a dvd in real comfort. Also some side tables with a leather baskets underneath to hide things like slippers, books, old socks...
I will also present with the historic Swedish woodmaker company Gärsnäs an ash chair and a table called Österlen at the next Stockholm fair.
In April, with a Portuguese cork company some small containers. And with LucePlan, a smaller version of the Wall lamp Ecran introduced last year in Frankfurt.
Combining some of your work from 2010, such as the Ruché sofa, the Trame mirror and a Vapeur lamp, would make a wonderful living room, but what are the elements that make a space perfect to you?
Ruché sofa & table
How has French culture and living in Paris influenced your design thinking?
It has influenced me in a strange way; Paris and French culture for design are so conformist for style that I have always in mind to do objects that would fit conformist and old interiors as much as contemporary ones, but to avoid doing fake retro or old style (in France, we are the king for fake old style like fake Louis XIV or Louis XV, which are the most common styles that you find in houses). Please keep in mind that there are many French designers who became well-known worldwide, but they never began in France (always with Italian companies and they hardly work in France, but mostly abroad). So there is a big difference between French designers and French Design. They often don't match.
Ruché table - Ligne Roset
Are you still exploring ideas that involve pleats or pleating? What new passions have you developed in terms of forms or materials?
I am not in pleats for the moment because the objects I work on are not related to this. My passions are not in my actual works. I like leather; I really never worked with it. I like glass, I never used it... In fact, I succeed in liking things when I am doing them. So when I am involved with a technique, I like it because trying to understand possibilities and impossibilities for a technique is interesting; it is like a grammar and I like languages.
Ruché side table - Ligne Roset
Portrait by Sofia Sanchez
and Mauro Mongiello