Behind Charlie Crane, there is a team of passionate people driven by the desire to shake up the codes of classic child design. Let’s meet them!
For this first interview, we went to meet Gaspard Tine-Beres, a French designer who has been working for the brand for almost ten years. He told us everything about his creative process, the future of Charlie Crane and especially his ambition to propose responsible products, far from programmed obsolescence. If you like design (or are simply curious), make yourself comfortable for a coffee with Gaspard…
1 – Hello Gaspard! Could you briefly tell us about your journey and how your path crossed the one of Charlie Crane?
I’ve wanted to design, and more precisely furniture, since childhood. Then I went to art school in Reims and did a master’s degree at the Royal College of Arts in London. I met Thomas Lepine by chance when I’d just finished my Master’s degree. On his side, he had already launched the company with the LEVO (rockchair) and the NOGA (changing table). He was looking for a new designer to design new items. We quickly come with the idea to work together on a high chair project: the TIBU.
2 – How do you work with Thomas? What brings you together?
We work well (laughs). Of course, we’ve been working together for 10 years now! We share an ambitious vision of the Charlie Crane brand and we’re constantly thinking about what might be missing from the range. What’s nice is that it gives me a lot of freedom to draw, to create. Sometimes we have conflicts, but they open the debate. In the end, we always end up with products that we’re both very proud of and that we’ve really co-designed. But what brings us together above all is our deep desire to bring something new to the children’s furniture market.
3 – What is your creative process (from the moment you imagine the product to the moment it comes to life)?
It often starts from an idea that “lingers” in my head. I let it emerge, little by little, sharpening my eye until I reach to a proposal that I’m proud to present to Thomas. If he likes it too, then we move on to step two: the design! It’s a long process of going back and forth with the factories which requires a great deal of tenacity. Then you have to pass the standards, which can be very complicated! In short, we work a lot to give life to our ideas.
4 – Are you a pencil enthusiast or a fan of new technologies?
I love to draw and sketch. This is how my ideas emerge. But it’s only a small part of the iceberg because on a daily basis, we work mainly with digital design and manufacturing software. Our partner factories have state-of-the-art equipment and new technologies allow us to achieve great precision. When we design a new product, I always have in mind the people and machines that will make it and I think about the best way to address them. In addition, I find that new technologies allow human-sized factories to produce very complex parts of constant quality. It’s a very interesting new paradigm, for them and for us, a young publishing house!
5 – Charlie Crane furniture is very inspired by the fifties. Are there any designers or mythical pieces from this period that inspire your daily work?
Definitely! Thomas and I share a real passion for design and we are both fascinated by the early days of industrial design. By that I mean the period of Eames, Perriand and Prouvé – whom I consider a genius! Our favorite one is Jacques Hitier – a great designer who is unfortunately little known.
For me, the fifties were a golden generation for design: designers had fewer constraints than today and a real curiosity to discover new manufacturing methods.
6 – What do you think defines a design as “contemporary”?
More than aesthetics, it is the production methods and constraints that make a design contemporary. It’s a piece that is not only beautiful but also affordable and above all, it’s made with an ecological logic. Contemporary design has to make savings in terms of materials used, packaging and transport.
Putting a new product on the market today means having a responsibility to think about its ecological footprint.
7 – Could you tell us what are the next items you are working on?
We’re working on a lot of things at the same time! New beds, storage systems and even accessories. But what drives us most today is to work more closely with other design studios. We would like to have a real publishing house approach by getting closer to young talents whose work we love to extend the Charlie Crane range even further.
8 – As a young dad, which Charlie Crane product is indispensable, the one to have absolutely on your birth list?
My children obviously have all the products in the range and I loved watching them grow up with them! But I have a crush for the TIBU chair, the first product I designed for Charlie Crane. It’s a chair that allows you to really be at the table with your child. It is safe and at the right height to spend a quality time with the family. Moreover, it is an evolutionary product that can be used for a long time, my daughter is 5 years old and still uses it… and it’s not about to change!
9 – If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I would make the trees grow faster than they are cut down.
10 – The object of the future you would love to imagine?
In my wildest dreams I would like to invent a really efficient and completely carbon neutral packaging material.