Coffee with Gaspard Tiné-Berès, designer at Charlie Crane
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 talked to us about his creative process, the future of Charlie Crane and, above all, his ambition to offer 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 tell us a little about your background and how you came to meet Charlie Crane?
I've wanted to design, and more specifically furniture, since childhood. Then I went to art school in Reims and did a Master's at the Royal College of Arts in London. I met Thomas Lepine by chance when I had just finished my Master's degree. He had already launched Charlie Crane with the LEVO (bouncer) and the NOGA (changing table). He was looking for a new designer to propose models. We decided to work together on a highchair project: the TIBU.
2 - How does your duet with Thomas work? What brings you together?
We work well together (laughs). Of course, we've been working together for 10 years now! And when I say together, I mean really together! We share an ambitious vision of the Charlie Crane brand, and we're always thinking about what might be missing from the range. The nice thing is that he gives me a lot of freedom to design and create. Sometimes we have conflicts, but they're always frank. The main thing is to keep the discussion open... In the end, we always end up with products that we're both very proud of, and that we've really co-designed, from A to Z. But above all, what brings us together 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)?
Often, I start with an idea that's been "hanging around" in my head. And I let it emerge, little by little, sharpening my eye until I come up with a proposal that I present to Thomas. If he likes it too, then we move on to stage two: the design! It's a long process of going back and forth with factories and prototypists, which requires a great deal of tenacity. Then we have to pass the standards, which can be very complicated! In short, we work like ants to bring our ideas to life.
4 - Are you more of a pencil pusher or a new technology fanatic?
I love drawing and sketching. For me, that's how ideas emerge. After that, it's only a small part of the iceberg, because on a day-to-day basis, we work mainly with digital design and manufacturing software. Our partner factories have state-of-the-art equipment, and new technologies enable us to achieve a high level of precision. When we design a new product, I always have in mind the people and machines that are going to manufacture it, and I think about the best way to address them. What's more, I find that new technologies enable human-scale factories to produce highly complex parts of consistent quality. It's a very interesting new paradigm, both for them and for us as a young publishing house!
5 - Charlie Crane furniture is very much inspired by fifties furniture. Are there any designers or mythical pieces from this period that inspire your day-to-day work?
Absolutely! Thomas and I share a real passion for design, and we're both fascinated by early industrial design. By that I mean the period of Eames, Perriand and Prouvé - who I consider a genius! Our darling is Jacques Hitier - a great designer who is sadly overlooked.
For me, the fifites were a bit of 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's the production methods and constraints that make a design contemporary. It's a piece that's not just pretty, but also affordable and, above all, ecologically sound. A contemporary design must be economical in terms of materials used, packaging and transport.
Bringing a new product to market today means having a responsibility to think about its ecological footprint.
7 - Could you tell us what pieces you're working on next?
We're working on lots of things at the same time! New beds, storage systems and even accessories. But what really motivates us today is to collaborate more closely with other design studios. We'd like to have a real publishing house approach, by approaching young talents whose work we like, to further extend the Charlie Crane range.
8 - As a new dad, what do you consider to be the must-have Charlie Crane product on your birth list?
My children obviously have all the products in the range and I've loved watching them grow up with them! But I have a soft spot for the TIBU chair, the first product I designed for Charlie Crane. It's a chair that really lets you sit at the table with your child. He's safe and at the right height for a convivial family moment. What's more, it's an evolutionary product that can be used for a long time to come. My 5-year-old daughter is still using it... and that's not about to change!
9 - If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I'll make trees grow faster than they can be cut down.
10 - The object of the future you'd love to imagine?
In my wildest dreams, I'd like to invent a packaging material that's truly efficient and completely carbon neutral.