Frédérique Ficheroulle, material girl. Design - 18 March 2015
Born into a family of architects and artists, Frédérique Ficheroulle, by her own admission, "couldn't have grown up in a better environment". An interview with this unrepentant nit-picker with her contagious enthusiasm before she heads off to the Milan Furniture Fair, not for the first time but for the first time in her own name.
How did you end up in the world of design?
I would always put a lot of patience and care into arts and crafts, so I knew that I wanted to go in a creative direction. I started off by studying architecture at La Cambre, although the idea of building houses didn't really do much for me, which isn't a great attitude for an architect. After juggling with the idea of jewellery design, I finally landed at the CAD to study Interior Architecture and Design. This is where it all began to fall into place.
You have already had the opportunity to work with renowned designers, such as Jean-François D'Or and Nathalie Dewez - what did they teach you?
I learned a lot from both about the job of "professional creator". I first started with Nathalie (who had previously been my babysitter and my teacher at La Cambre!), where I discovered how to manage different projects, learned about communication with customers and how to push back the boundaries in the profession - I'm pretty blown away by her idea for the IDETA project, to which I contributed; it was daring, to say the least! Working alongside her in her studio was also a lot of fun.
Then, Jean-François offered me a development and production project as part of his exhibition at the Grand Hornu. Going back over his career and projects with him was both very rewarding and a great pleasure, as in a way it was with him, as a student, that I discovered that I wanted to make a career out of design. With Jean-François, I discovered the balance between the "structure and strategy" side of a project and the "creation and poetry" side. I am very glad to have spent a year and a half of my learning curve with him.
You seem to enjoy working with different materials (wood, foam, porcelain, textiles and even silicone), is there any particular reason for that ?
I'm really into "materials". I like being in a room and trying to identify the materials around me! But it's pure chance that each of my projects is based on a different material - they were "imposed" by the subject.
What does your production say about your personality ?
It's hard to say, because I've just begun, but I've always liked the idea of getting my hands dirty and rolling up my sleeves. Being able to work materials, discover their properties, the possible tools and finishes, enriches the project. When I start, it quickly becomes difficult to stop, but the problem is that I have to earn my living, so it isn't a luxury that I can always afford.
What made you want to study gemmology ?
As a child, I was also passionate about mineralogy. The fact that such perfect crystals can "grow" in nature fascinated me - my friends used to give me stones for my birthday. I missed science subjects during my studies, so when I discovered that I could study gemmology, I jumped at the chance. I don't know exactly what I'll do with a gemmologist degree but all these observations are fascinating, and dissecting natural, chemical and physical phenomena, working with microscopes, a polariscope, spectroscope etc., is really exciting and is a real source of inspiration for my projects.
You will soon be participating in the Salone Satellite with other young Belgian talents - what does it feel like to be selected ?
It was an opportunity for me to really get my career into gear. I enrolled telling myself "If I'm accepted, I have no choice, I'm putting everything into it!" I've been going to the Milan Furniture Fair since 2007, so before starting architecture at La Cambre ! Actually, it's funny to see how my vision changes visit after visit. The first time, I went alone, knowing absolutely nothing and I told myself "Well, that's certainly not for me !" I was just overawed by the sheer number and diversity of exhibitors! Now I see it differently and manage to make a better shortlist of what is worth and not worth seeing.
By Maxime Fischer