A couple of days ago I was very lucky to be able to attend a lecture by Jean-Louis Deniot in Moscow. I truly admire his work and it is great to find out that he is such an amazing person with unbelievable charisma and pleasant personality. He talked about his current projects, his career, his book and of course gave plenty of advice and professional tips.
Here are the things which I liked most:
Most of his knowledge he gained not in the design school but by himself – by self-education.
After graduating he almost immediately established his own studio. His internship lasted only 2 weeks and it was the first and the last time he worked for somebody else. He said that freedom is his biggest value.
His first project was his own apartment in Paris which was only 25 square meters. After he decorated it, this work was published in one of the magazines.
After this first publication he expected to have a constant flow of clients, but he had to spend much more time and effort, publish several other projects before it became reality. His advise to starting designers who don’t have any portfolio “redecorate your own flat and make everything possible to get it published”
His first projects were very small and had tiny budget. He used to shop in flea markets and garage sales, as well as paint the walls by himself. So here is his another tip: “in the beginning of your career, don’t be afraid of dirty work and do things by yourself, instead of waiting for huge projects to come to you immediately”.
Another trick for creating portfolio is to borrow furniture and accessories from shops, style any room and then photograph it.
Today he works with the most rich and famous people from all over the world. At this stage he rejects around 70% of clients. He only chooses those, with whom he feels comfortable and if the project is challenging and interesting for him.
Concept of any projects consist of 3 components: 1) inspiration from location, 2) client’s preferences 3) designer’s own ideas and inspirations. When I looked at all projects of Deniot I could definitely see a strong connection between interiors and surrounding landscape.
“In the beginning of your career try not to be inspired too much by other designers – otherwise you will never develop your own style: trust your taste and instincts.”
Around 90% of time spent on each project he dedicated to architectural planning – for example, he can spend 6 months on planning and dthen decorate the whole house within 1 day. He says that architecture is the skeleton, and without strong bones the whole project will collapse.
Deniot doesn’t like 3d Renderings featuring an entire room – he says that this is always an ugly version of the final result. Whenever possible he tries to avoid it, unless it is requested by his clients. Mostly his renderings highlight only specific architectural features, layout, and finishes:
11. At meetings with clients he tries to show only certain fragments of a project, the most interesting spots and ideas – not the entire thing. He says if you do so, you will limit your creative freedom.
12. When he decided that he wants do design the furniture for his projects, he went to see one of the most famous manufacturer. He says that when the people see you personally, they have very little opportunity to reject talking with you without seeming rude. So the best way to get noticed is to go and speak to people directly without calling.
Finally his last (and my favorite) advice was: “Don’t wait for life to bring you opportunities. You need to go and grab what you want”.
Here are my favorite rooms, designed by Jean-Louis Deniot – for me they are an endless source of inspiration…