Designed to be different
French start up Fontegrise endeavours to create products on the edges of art and functionality
We’re used to untreated concrete, distressed paintwork and exposed wiring, but a couple of French designers have given the term ‘industrial chic’ another twist. Fontegrise was set up by 21-year-old Thibault Murat, who describes himself as passionate about eco design and up-cycling, and Mathieu Momein, who's just 20 and passionate about design and industrial furniture. Together they endeavour to create products on the edges of art and functionality.
The fledgling product design outfit, based in Lyon, scours French factories for their old industrial molds, gives them a spit and polish and transforms them into furniture. In one respect, it’s a bit of an indictment of the state of France’s industrial sector that these molds are obsolete. Or maybe they're from thriving factories which are upgrading their equipment.
Either way, Fontegrise is certainly up-cycling these old pieces. In fact, it has a shelving unit on sale for a cool 1150Euros. The unit is formed with one old mold at the base, one at the top, and linking them with two long steel rods. Then there’s a low coffee table with an old mold as the tabletop for 750Euros.
The approach seems to be to find an unusual looking cast-off, and figure out what Fontegrise’s carpenters can craft around it to give it a new domestic or forward-thinking office function. The fun bit online is to choose a mold from the website picture gallery that you'd like turned into furniture. Just be aware that by their very nature these are not flat surfaces but molded into 3D forms.
You can see more examples of cutting edge industrial and product design in Phaidon's forthcoming The Design Book. It showcases 500 of the most innovative, beautiful and influential products of the last 500 years that are still in production today and documents not only the history of design, but also the history of taste and culture. Find out more and pre-order it here.