Bold is a design and scenography agency set up by William Boujon and Julien Benayoun in 2008. William and Julien are inspired by the latest technological developments, science and art to imagine their objects and spaces. This approach has allowed them to collaborate with partners including The Laboratory, Paris / Cambridge, the MIT Media Lab, the Pompidou Center, Nelly Rodi, Collective 1992, Dood, Photocabine, and NextMotion.
The agency is also a research laboratory that questions traditional techniques such as digital technologies. Since their collaboration in 2015 with Dood Studio, for the design of a new 3D wire deposit printer, Bold has developed a number of projects around 3D printing. This research is supported by galleries such as AYBAR in Miami, and has led them to experiment with ceramic 3D printing at 8FabLab Drôme.
Where did your love of design come from?
Julien: I can easily be bored by something too repetitive, so I find I get a lot out of design. It allows me to meet very interesting people I wouldn’t meet otherwise. As a shy child, I was observing my surroundings a lot. I think that gave me a strong interest for people, objects and interactions between both. I also loved to draw and play with plasticine. I had the feeling that as a designer, I could do it all in my profession!
William: This field gives the opportunity to work on really various environments, techniques, and to meet passionate people. There are never two projects that are the same but every encounter or project nurtures the others.
What have you been working on lately?
In April, our client Innled is launching a product we designed with them – a technical and very interesting autonomous LED lighting system for the event sector.
We’ve recently finished working on a low tech, ergonomic and playful sofa and armchair collection, that adapts to different body types or situations, with Mousse du Nord for Camif Edition. It’s all made in France with great materials and at a very accessible price.
We are now designing 3D printed objects for different clients we can’t talk about yet and contributing to a reflexion on new ways of manufacturing.
How do you approach a new design?
We are two people and designing with four hands and two heads is like playing a ping pong match where the players are not playing against each other but for a common goal.
It depends on the type of projects. When working for a commission, we always start by meeting with the client. Not only the boss but we gather the different roles; marketing, factory, sales, final users and so on, in order to get a global view and deeply understand the need. Then we start with the creative phase.
Working on a personal project is quite different. When it’s process based, we start with an exploration. Knowing very little about a technic is fine when you start. It even helps sometimes. This allows us to get a silly idea, an intuition or a personal question to try without any censor. Then we just dig into it. It’s an everlasting process.
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Where do you find creative inspiration?
We love to tell stories with our projects and we find our inspiration everywhere. We are both very interested in sciences, nature, technology, and art, as well as people, interactions, and daily life observations.
Cinema and books inspire us a lot as well. Sometimes, you can’t tell where an idea is coming from. Your brain is doing the work by creating surprising links between things you see, read or listen to.
Do you have any go-to books on art and design?
Julien: I discovered ‘Design for The Real World’ by the designer and teacher, Victor Papanek, while working on my diploma project. This one isn’t just a must read for designers but anyone could read it. A designer friend also gave me a book called ‘At Home: A Short History of Private Life’ by the American author Bill Bryson. I enjoyed it so much that I started to read one of his previous books ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’. So fun and helpful for everyone who likes to understand why our civilisation is working the way it is.
William: ‘Manufacturing Processes’ by Rob Thompson is never far from my desk. Technics, materials and processes are real sources of inspiration to me.
You collaborated on a new 3D printed with London-based 3D printer Batch.works, can you tell us about this project?
We met Julien from Batch.works after discovering his work on Instagram (@batch.works) as our fields were pretty similar. It was a year ago and it felt right to start thinking about doing something together.
Our two companies are complementary. We love experimenting with design and exploring ways to realise the potential of 3D printing. Batch.works is a very dynamic and professional company focusing on 3D printed object production.
Batch.works has their own designs and asked us to propose two new products to add to their new Batch.market platform. We are very happy with this collaboration. We really feel Batch.works is the best partner for this kind of collaboration. They’re creating something completely new by making accessible consumer goods directly at the core of the city.
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Tell us about your other collaborations.
We love to collaborate. We started with a collection of unique glass pieces called Blown Shapes with Yonel Faure, a french glassblower. We also teamed up with Diatomée Paris to launch our first jewellery collection made out of borosilicate glass and magnets for quite a disturbing and surprising result.
For an exhibition at La Cité du Design in St Etienne, France, we collaborated with a shotgun manufacturer. We are not into hunting at all and we developed a domestic product with them, a directional led light.
For another exhibition called Design Exquis, in London this time, we worked with Soletanche-Bachy. They actually work with bacteria to calcify sand. We came up with the Memorabilia Factory kit concept. It allows you to create your own souvenir with local sand and local landscape inspired shapes.
We also worked with DOOD Studio on the design of a fdm 3d printer. That’s how we started to experiment with the tool. We are collaborating a lot lately, mainly on workshops for museums, companies or schools.
And one of the latest collaborations is with KATABA, a young company working with designers and craftsmen to develop durable pieces of furniture and objects. We started by designing a stool and ended up designing a whole coffee shop in Paris, MIGNON Café. We designed almost every piece of furniture which gives a big part of MIGNON’s identity. We are currently preparing some nice and ambitious projects with them and other partners.
What advice would you give yourselves if you started all over again?
It’s funny because we had some very helpful advice during our ERASMUS experience in Netherlands. Teachers were telling us that the French think too much. They came up with a powerful statement “DON’T THINK AND GO” ! It’s obviously important to think about what you’re doing and try to create meaningful things but thinking too much instead of experimenting can be a waste of time. You learn so fast and so much by doing.