In an interview for Vitra magazine, Pieter Kool, Design Director of G-Star RAW, talks about why the Dutch denim brand used products by Jean Prouvé to furnish its new headquarters in Amsterdam and how this led to the development of a unique edition in cooperation with Vitra.
VM: Where does G-Star’s love for Jean Prouvé stem from?
PK: Prouvé’s no-nonsense designs, created with focus on functionality, as well as his choices in material and colour, have always been an inspiration to G-Star. Our philosophy is ‘Just the Product’, so the democratic purpose and usefulness of Prouvé’s designs match that of denim. With age Prouvé’s furniture develops character – as does jeans. Our mind sets are similar in that our goals are based around creating products with a long life expectancy – functionality and aesthetically. G-Star, Jean Prouvé and Vitra share some common values around democratic designs, craftsmanship, quality, functionality, aesthetics, innovation, and technology. The crossover project Prouvé RAW Office Edition allows us to carry out a unique design experiment, blending our design DNA with that of two industry icons whom we admire.
Various pieces of your furniture will be available as a new Edition. What was the motivation behind this?
We also wanted to reinterpret and relaunch the classic Prouvé designs in collaboration with Vitra and Catherine Prouvé and make them available and accessible to more people – not only the happy few who find or can afford to collect Prouvé’s furniture.
There must have been discussions using historic task chairs instead of full functional task chairs, which cover all topics of modern ergonomics. What made you go this way and are you and your staff happy with this decision?
From the beginning, our approach to the collaboration has been to keep as close as possible to the original designs and to not make any concessions when it came to material quality. With the first RAW-Prouvé Crossover being a home collection, there were minimal obstacles in this approach. However, with an office collection, because of regulations and modern needs of an office environment, this was more challenging – how can we integrate into Prouvé’s line of thinking height adjustability, a cable gutter, or a 5-legged office chair base? Using new production techniques we reconsider the ergonomic aspects of the designs. This led to size corrections in the chairs, particularly to make them more suitable for the modern (taller) man or woman. Out of the entire G-Star Head-quarters project, interior and exterior, we expected the office chairs to be most likely to cause disturbance to our employees. We used the prototypes for response groups and took their input to improve the chair ergonomically, and to generate understanding of our ideas. The office chair doesn’t have the endless number of features and functionalities that many contemporary office chairs have – but is does comply with all guidelines required by European law – and that is exactly what we wanted. We stripped the chair to the essential functionalities and did it really well. The rest we didn’t. The result: no complaints, and an affordable, beautiful chair.
Read the full article in Vitra magazine.