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Xavier Lust, between art and industry Design - 24 November 2014

Between the Brussels press conference for the Salone del Mobile, where he held a presentation as preferred partner of Italian design, and his departure the next day for New York, where he's taking part in The Salon, the new place to be for art and design in Upper Manhattan, we asked Xavier Lust a few questions.

You're exhibiting at "The Salon: Art + Design" and, what's more, will have a presence on more than one stand...
Yes, I'll be alongside Pierre Passebon on the Galerie du Passage stand, which showed my latest pieces in Paris and even co-financed their production. And I'll also be exhibiting there on the site of the Belgian gallery Anne Autegarden, with, among other things, my travertine tables, which are proving very successful. In terms of pieces sold, that's what is doing best right now.

Are these limited editions opening up other perspectives for you?
Absolutely. It's 'design art', a different way of thinking. With Nilufar, I've designed Continent, a solid brass console table with a bent and pierced surface. It represents a lot of material but the overall effect is still very subtle. Shadows seem to play across it because the thickness varies in each place. I wouldn't have been able to achieve a result like that if I'd been aiming for economy.

So, 'design art' takes up a large part of your time at the moment?
Yes, but obviously I'm still pursuing different projects and collaborative work, whether it's for the OXO series that I've just launched for Kristalia, the Designers' Christmas Trees or preparing for the next Milan trade fair with Fiam or Zanotta.

Don't you ever feel torn between the different disciplines?
No, because that's precisely where the essence of my work lies, on the boundary between art and industry, two very interesting disciplines, to which each bring their own challenges and merits. When people see my furniture, such as the Banc (bench) or the PicNik Table, there's a pictorial dimension. I think that represents more than just a simple piece of plastic.

What key distinction do you see between those two parts of your work?
You could say the huge choice of materials or technology that can be used, the formal freedom or the demands in terms of function, but the main difference is still one of a financial nature. Designing furniture is closely linked to production cost. Each product has to cost as little as possible for it to be commercially successful. And that means a lot of equations to solve. For 'design art', the resources that can be invested in a piece are more substantial and the selling price will be much higher.

Which proves more worthwhile for you in terms of remuneration ...
Of course, those amounts are higher too but they're still related to production. The costs necessary to create a table in bronze bear no relation to the costs a less exclusive material would have required, if we take the example of the S-Table. Especially as casting all that material was quite a technical feat. It would be wrong to assume that the margins are enormous.

That S-Table is being produced initially by MDF Italia, just like the Gold Graph desk by FIAM. What agreement do you have with those brands for creating limited series?
The Gold Graph desk is covered in gold leaf and made of extra-clear glass, non-standard features that set it apart from the original. The limited edition wasn't planned at first but, in the end, proved possible because Fiam has a department dedicated to limited series and was therefore able to handle its production. The market is buoyant and, so, it's justifiable to be interested in it. On the other hand, things were different with MDF Italia, for that bronze version of the S-Table. My contract was renegotiated when the brand was bought out seven years ago and I inserted a clause allowing me to produce an additional version of that table in other materials. A clause that I try to apply to all my contracts today. And I think that everyone can benefit from it. Strictly speaking, it doesn't cost the brand anything. On the contrary, it creates publicity for it.

Written by Maxime Fischer


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