Derby, an instinctive shape


Design by Noé Duchaufour Lawrance

When I visited Italy to improve my studies on sculpture 10 years ago, I got to know and appreciate design. I had a real passion for works by Ron Arad and Carlo Mollino, the former was modern, and the latter classical. Their two visions had in common the quest for curved, organic shapes, dynamic items that seemingly describe gestures made when using them. I find it a timeless style because it precisely meets the requirements of modern living». Thus Noé Duchaufour Lawrance introduces the story of his progress in contemporary design that is packed with successful experiences, like the items designed for Zanotta, namely the table and console table Dessouschic (2005, in the catalogue with Edizioni) and the armchair Derby, which was presented at the furniture fair in 2009. This is an enveloping, ergonomic bergère armchair; a harmonious, sinuous item centred on a solid swivel steel base. «To produce it Zanotta created a manufacturing process based on top quality industrial engineering», says Duchaufour Lawrance. «The body is externally made of stiff polyurethane upholstered with either leather or hide. Inside, the chair has elastic strip springing and multiple-density polyurethane padding. The technological solution of moulding the body along with the elastic strip springing creates a harmonious unit with the padding. An additional layer of polyurethane adapted to the seat enhances softness.» The armchair’s overall shape issues from a careful study of the seat-back relationship. It is rather innovative since the production process organises the sequence of each component’s manufacturing processes. They are first individually moulded, and then calibrated, assembled and finished with a highly technological sartorial system. The result is a very comfortable armchair that welcomes the body with an organically perfect shape. It is no mere chance that the young French designer refers – in a world of interior and industrial design – to a group of creative designers who are inspired by the elements and shapes of nature and whose masters count the beloved Mollino and designers like Ross Lovegrove. «Lovegrove’s approach to this world of industrial items has always fascinated me», says Duchaufour Lawrance, «and since I come from sculpture, I think I have some excellent opportunities to practice this profession. As a sculptor one acquires solid knowledge of how materials react to torsion and movement. One learns to obtain forms and volumes, and studies subjects such as anatomy, geometry and ergonomics. One becomes expert in the strengths and thrusts exerted by the body on forms. I have loved art and nature since I was very young. I spent a lot of time moulding soft, sinuous items with my hands».