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Suspended chairs are now a trademark for Felix Guyon, as well as for Les Ateliers Guyon as a whole. Three of his new Méliès chairs, released last May in New York at ICFF 2016, can already be found in SquareSpace’s New York headquarters and in several Lululemon stores in the United-States.
“The chair has always been a challenge in both structure and style, for all designers throughout history. We tend to overlook the impressive amount of work hidden behind this object. To me, the suspended chair is the ultimate challenge in this area. It has to be delicate, yet extra strong, since it floats in midair. Moreover, the suspended chair is something of a monument; so it can afford to fully assume its artistic side, given the place it takes in space.”
Félix Guyon stands out by his artistic approach to design. Favoring a loose aesthetics, with high contrasts in eras, styles and material, he always ends up creating unique, clearly unmanufactured pieces. Thanks to his use of noble materials and the collaboration of local craftsmen, he makes sure Quebec’s know-how is rightfully promoted and propelled, both home and abroad.
Why Méliès? / The Inspiration
This exact approach drew some big players’ attention, such as SquareSpace and Lululemon. The chair met an immediate success right after its official release at the May 2016 New York ICFF Design Exhibition. Félix Guyon considers it as being part of Larose Guyon’s La Belle Époque collection. Larose Guyon is another business of Félix’s, one that he cofounded alongside his better half Audrée Larose in 2016. All of this collection’s objects and luminaires are inspired by the romantic period of time in Paris’ second industrialization which historians call “La Belle Époque”. Each of their collection’s creation bears the name of a famous person from the end of the 19th century and this new chair is no exception to that rule, as its namesake was one of the first movie directors. It was inspired by Georges Méliès’ magical universe, where imagination soars in a boundless sky and the past and future meet. Georges Méliès, a pioneer of the surrealist genre, has long been an inspiration to Félix Guyon “I don’t think I will ever grow out of it; I desperately need to infuse poetry and magic in this world. I believe it is at the heart of what I do. I believe it is my mission. In my line of work, we don’t save lives; a designer’s work is pointless in a way, or at least far from being vital. But beauty and magic are, in order to make sense out of our short time on this Earth. And I feel they must be pushed forward, whatever the price.”
Organic and methodic creations
When asked, Félix Guyon compares his job as a project manager to that of a conductor coaching every musician in their specialization. To him, creation is a dance between shape, materials, production techniques, structural challenges and user-friendliness. All of these must be thought through and validated at each step. Then we add a touch of wonder and poetry and we’re done. “I can work night and day to reach that fine balance. In these moments, my brain is working full speed and weeks pass me by like hours! I navigate with my guts between monetary and technical limitations, with artistic instinct alone as my compass.”
For this suspended chair, which will be part of his upcoming furniture collection, Félix admits to the cold sweat that comes with struggling for such a balance between toughness and lightness, between “art deco” elegance and contemporariness.
This chair is the first of a new collection that should be launched next year. A reading chair, a dinner table chair, a coffee table and a few luminaires will also be featured. It is a daunting task, since every piece requires several months of development.
Motivated by a desire to offer fine-tuned products to his customers, he wants to add one more string to his bow by diversifying the range of his products. With the expansion of this collection, he is coming back to his roots. Félix Guyon has been doing interior design and custom furniture design for the last ten years, either for private clients or for internationally known companies such as SID LEE Architecture or London-based Jump Studios. He was raised by artisan parents who showed him all he knows. Creating turnkey objects was his first tentative step in design. Today, without ever losing sight of custom design, a part of him returns to his first love.
Back to the roots
After studying in France and working in architecture in London, after gathering years’ worth of design experience in Montreal as the head of his first company La Firme, Félix Guyon decided to come back to Verchères, his hometown. He now seeks inspiration through the quiet and through the love its inhabitants — himself included — bear for their village. “For a long time I’ve wandered abroad, in search for my essence, without ever realizing that it was here all along, right under my nose, in the village where I was born. The river, the seasons, the people. Everything makes so much more sense now!”
It is no simple coincidence that Félix Guyon named is business Les Ateliers Guyon, as it was the original name of the design company founded by his family in the ‘70s, which the young designer wishes to put back on track. “My grandfather was a woodworker and made “Verchères” rowboats in the ‘40s. My father and mother still sculpt acrylic glass to this day. From one generation to the next, we pass on our love for craft. With projects such as this one, I too hope to someday pass this same passion for diligent work on to my son, who is only a 3-year-old by now!”
Official Project Title: Méliès chair
Client: Lululemon, SquareSpace, Les Ateliers Guyon
Designers: Les Ateliers Guyon
Projet Manager: Félix Guyon
Contributors: Canevas Lachine (seat), Axis Peinture (metal), Maylissa François (leather), CBR laser (laser cutting)
Price: $2,850 USD
Project Date: May 2016
Photograph: Félix Guyon
Production: Entirely hand-made in Quebec
Materials: Aluminium, stainless steel, leather and Ferrari Soltis 86
Production: approximately 8 weeks
Size: 5’ in diameter
Weight: 15 lbs