Desinature’s small design studio is based in Southampton and the place where the whole creation process of Esmenjaud’s designs takes place – the idea gathering, the production and the distribution. The individual parts of the final creations – beautiful and affordable lamps and bird-houses – get sent to their new owners, who then can assemble the components themselves.
Sublime: Etienne, tell us a bit about yourself and the story of Desinature.
Etienne: I’m originally from Antibes, France. I graduated in product design in Southampton in 2006. The same year I won the Design Directions Competition organised by the prestigious Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) and decided to stay in the UK. I then worked in graphic design and branding before I launched Desinature, as I first had to figure out what exactly I wanted to do and what my vision was, which took me some years.
I started Desinature with Birdee, a small bird-house. It was really popular so I decided to keep going. I launched the wooden Bud lampshades and created the honey lampshades. Now I’m about to introduce the Lily lampshades - colourful, reversible shades made of durable cardboard. They all come in a really small folder and you assemble them yourself.
S: What does your usual day of work look like?
E: I usually arrive in the office around 10 o’clock. I would then go through the admin, emails and phone calls. In the afternoon I usually work on my current projects. I tend to develop new products in my free time, so in the evenings or on weekends. I like working in my little studio but another important part of my job is obviously going out and making contact with potential customers, which can be hard sometimes.
S: What inspires you?
E: I’m inspired by manual and down-to-earth processes. I don’t have a very intellectual approach but I like to experiment, work on models and try out new things. I usually start with the material, play with it and find out what shape I could create. All my final products are laser cut or die-cut, manufacturing methods that don’t require a big investment, which is important, because Desinature is a small company and therefore we produce everything ourselves.
S: Your designs are sourced and created in an eco-friendly way. Tell us more about it.
E: More and more people become aware of the environmental issues we face and buy products that are sustainable. It’s a growing market and a big trend that many companies are jumping on - even large multinationals call themselves eco. I personally think that it’s a bit tricky to label yourself as a green brand, because whatever you produce, you create waste and use energy. Desinature tries to be as eco-friendly as possible – I source my material responsibly and try not to use a lot of energy.
We’ve also partnered with Tree-nation and donate a portion of our proceeds to tree planting projects around the world. We currently plant Moringas in Niger. Known as The Miracle Tree, the Moringa grows fast and helps to reforest the land. Its seeds have anti-microbial properties that purify water while the leaves are used as a powerful nutritional supplement.
S: Why is the element nature so important to you?
E: Nature inspires me. As a child I spent a lot of time outside in forests and on the seaside, simply looking at and discovering nature. Getting inspired by it is therefore a logical process for me. I’m trying to share my love of nature through my work and I aim to get people to appreciate it too and re-connect with the beauty of our environment.
S: What achievement are you most proud of?
E: The fact that people are buying my products makes me proud. That’s a nice reward. I try to make my products affordable, but knowing that people are spending their own money on my lamps and bird-houses, is a great feeling. I also like the idea of sharing a little bit of my personality with my customers, when one of my designs decorates their homes.
S: What are your plans for the future?
E: My real passion lies in furniture. I am a big fan of chairs, tables and shelves and the way they interact with the human body on a greater scale. Now I’m designing small products but hopefully I can produce bigger pieces of furniture in the future.
See for yourself at desinature.com