Tom Parker, Director and Co-founder of Fettle shares his inspiration, the renowned furniture designer and architect, Pierre Chareau
Andy Goodwin and I founded Fettle in 2013 with the intention of providing a hands-on, design-led, and personal interior design service that results in thoughtful, relevant and striking design work. Since then, Fettle has grown to become an eight-person studio with offices in Los Angeles and London. With projects in London, Rome, Los Angeles and New York we draw on inspiration from many different sources, but my greatest design inspiration is Pierre Chareau.
At a time when many modernist architects were focused on clean lines and clinical finishes, Chareau in collaboration with Bernard Bijvoet and Louis Dalbet created the Maison De Verre on Rue Saint-Guillaume in Paris. The architecture of this stunning glass block building pushed the boundaries of vernacular technology and construction but what fascinated me most about the residence were its interiors and furniture design.
With the client requesting an office space on the ground floor, and an existing tenant who refused to leave the top floor, Chareau’s approach to the different routes through the building embraced these challenges by cleverly concealing the staircase that divides workspace from personal space. It also feels as if the way the building is intended to be used manifests itself in not only the space planning but also in the most detailed parts of its design. For instance, the detailing of the steel on both the façade and interior screens as well as the glazed walls is industrial, but at the same time is elegant and light.
As with Chareau’s furniture design, what I find so clever about the architectural detailing is the way the materials are seemingly so delicately connected. Instead of slotting into the steel frame, the glass within the screens sits on small steel brackets to create a sense that the steel is gently suspending the glass in mid-air.
In regard to Chareau’s standalone furniture and lighting designs, it’s the changes in materiality that always catch my eye. The use of alabaster instead of fabric as a lampshade retains the same diffuse, warm glow and is again suspended on a tiny steel bracket instead of a concealed connection. Through the clever use of materials and detailing, it often feels like these pieces explain to you visually how they are design to be used.
Although different in style, Fettle aims to incorporate some of Chareau’s attention to detail in the work we produce as a studio. All our projects contain carefully-considered bespoke furniture and lighting and it’s often these tiny details that make or break a project. It’s very important to carefully consider the details so that the finished product does not feel disjointed.
On a larger scale, Fettle also tries to implement the mechanics of how people move through dwellings, restaurants and hotels using changes in materiality and layering. Often the most successful projects are those in which this human use of space not only dictates the layouts and plans but also the minute details of the joinery, furniture and lighting.