Travel & Living

The Extraordinary World of Designer Marc Ange

Known for his highly "Instagrammable" designs, Ange talks international influences, his isolation room, and how he stays sane.
Reading time 8 minutes

You were born in Rome, grew up in Paris and now you're based in L.A. it seems like your work is informed by Italian romanticism, French surrealism, and California dreaminess. Is there one that shows up more than the others?

I think these 3 influences are a real tripod to my current creative logic. Indeed, Italian romanticism, lyrical and theatrical, which my childhood was impregnated of, formed the basis of my artistic and aesthetic education. Growing up and studying in Paris, attending artistic and intellectual circles allowed me to open my field of vision towards more internalized perspectives, a creatively deconstructed and cerebral approach. Where Italian flamboyance provokes an absolute, warm and imposing beauty, French creativity offers a more psychoanalytical, more introspective reflection and describes a faceted beauty, sometimes dark and always subtle. Finally, my recent exile in California has given my work the last push towards balance. A solar gaze turned towards the future, strained towards the objective with an insolent faith, which constantly reminds that what truly counts is the end.

 

You've said that fantasy was a big part of your childhood. Can you elaborate?

My imagination was strongly solicited as a child. In hindsight, I think I was very lucky, but I did not experience a classic childhood, and the surrounding reality I knew as a child gave me a lot of subjects to deal with. I had a lot of time to let my imagination free trying to come to an understanding of reality, and often replacing reality.

 

You founded Bloom Room on the expectation of designing “nothing less than the extraordinary” both in terms of quality and concept. How did you choose the designers? What is Bloom Room’s process of production?

Bloom Room is my creative agency whose achievements are a response to requests from customers such as luxury brands, car manufacturers or hotel groups. It's a bit like the "Ready to Wear"  of the work that I do as Marc Ange which is more free of limitations and expressive, and which could be seen as my "haute couture". But in both cases, it is up to me to breathe life into the creative concept, so it becomes difficult to build a team of people who are meant as an extension of yourself.

None of the designers who work in my studios in Paris or L.A. were chosen by a traditional recruitment process based on experience or skills. Every designer on my team is a character, someone I met through life. Some had exceptional skills, others still undiscovered skills I was eager to see in action. I tried to give everyone the opportunity to develop their own personal abilities.

Today Bloom Room is made up of creative people with different profiles, complementary skills, and unique talents. Although my agency's field of action may seem fuzzy and unstructured, the reality is quite the opposite. Indeed, although we have the capability to draw cars as well as houses, luxury goods or pieces of furniture, the creative process remains the same and it is based on a quasi-scientific methodology. The flow of ideas, from the unconscious feeling to the manufacturing technique, must follow a precise and marked route. We have in-house know-how specialized in each sector, and a network of professionals with whom we work, which allows us to exploit our concept to make useful, technical and commercial realities.

Your personal work and Bloom Room seem to inject fantasy into every field of design from mechanical, to cosmetic, to interiors – in places where fantasy is not usually expected, like cars and champagne bottles. Would you say that the demand for this type of work is an indicator of a wider movement happening in the realm of design?

I think that emotion takes an increasingly important place in our apprehension of spaces and objects. We have gone beyond the search for comfort or efficiency in many areas, and human nature naturally returns to its constant search for happiness, channeled by love. The role of creation today is, in my opinion, more to allow the projection of oneself into a reality that catches up with our brain projections, conscious or not, than to further increase the ease of life.

 

You have a sort of psychoanalysis room in your Marais offices called “L'Anti-Chambre” — do you particularly encourage self-reflection from your designers? What do you hope they find by turning inwards?

The "Anti-Chambre" is a quiet and dark room for reflection and introspection. It is in this room that I isolate myself to reflect or that we meet to discuss altogether. The Paris studio is thought of as an idea incubator. The first part, this anti-chamber, where I isolated myself to welcome the creative sensations (I speak to the past because I am now based mainly in Los Angeles).

The second part is the workroom, where my team spends most of their time, which allows the technique and science to "give birth" to this concept, a reality. Then my office, at the back overlooking the street, watching life happen, which is the area of selection, judgment, decision. Introspection makes it possible to connect with each other, in a natural way, a certain number of points which constitute the weaving support of creation.

These points, which might be called inspiration, are among memories, culture, needs, and instinct.  By connecting these points we find the language to speak to the collective unconscious, which then gives to one thing, its emotional power.

 

Your designs address a variety of themes but a common denominator seems to be the concept of bringing the outdoors inside. What was your inspiration for this? Why the decision to use 'urban' material?

Yes, it's a current theme for me. Certainly due to the discovery of life in California, to the influence of light. I think this wave started with Le Refuge. This piece was the expression of a concept that part of the story comes from a childhood dream: the imaginary jungle that grew in my room to protect me from the outside world. Outside in. Nature in the walls, the inevitable victory of instinct over structure. The choice of materials is an expression of contrast that gives meaning to the concept. The opposite without which nothing exists, the counterpart of each reality.

Your designs have been called “Instagrammable,” as exemplified by Le Refuge being the most recognizable work of Milan Design Week thanks to social media. What do you think of the idea of “Instagrammability” in design?

I am new to the world of communication but I think that an "Instagrammable" piece is simply a piece that the audience appreciates. Instagram is just the new media of communication, but the motivation is the same whether it's design, cooking art, fashion or privacy. People share what they like.

 

Your work contributes to turning everyday existence into a work of art but, as much as your work may be physically comfortable, some of your designs provoke discomfort in a very intriguing way. What reactions do you hope your designs create?

I think nothing is more beautiful than the truth. I see in every work, whether it is art or any other form of expression, a desire to show, to display the truth. Even when it comes to lies, trickery or staging, all this describes the nature, sometimes animal and sometimes mystical of man. Beauty is also made up of error, imbalance, and accident. The perfection of the world and the functioning of life is made up of dysfunctions which are always the raison d'être of beauty. I think that touching emotions is always a blind act. The field of emotions is very tight, touching one of them always has an effect on a neighboring emotion. A nice family summer evening, comforting and sweet, always causes a slight melancholy. Beauty is made of balances.

 

While you dedicate your efforts, time and craft to the fantastical, how do you keep your 'two feet on the ground'? What do you do to stay sane?

That's a very good question! I think I could not do it by being younger. I have just turned 40, happy in my life and learned to balance my life as my creations. The fantastic world of creation lives with me, but I also know how to listen to the other realities of existence. But I admit that every little action of my life, every encounter, every emotion, is an additional element to my database that feeds creation. 

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