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    the everyday


    Under the helm of Normal Studio, Jean-Francois Dingjian and Eloi Chafaï explore notions of elementary design, initially driven by the tools that manufacture an object rather than the object itself.

    We visited the pair in their bright studio in Montreuil, a sleepy suburb of Paris, to discuss the tension between Scandinavian and French design subtly captured in their new Flow Trolley.
    Normal Studio’s objects and spaces are not loud, quite the contrary. Nonetheless, they exude a convincing presence and qualities that reveal themselves on closer inspection, as if purposefully encouraging contemplation. The duo’s hallmark is simple, systemic design with subtle qualities that elevate pieces from the mundane to the sublime, all while staying within the confines of functional industrial design.

    The award-winning practice is driven by sense-making, often through the meticulous exploration of manufacturing processes inspiring them to create.

    Dingjian and Chafaï’s studio just outside of Paris bears the marks of fierce curiosity and questioning, filled with books, materials, models in all scales, prototypes, sketches and a workshop at the heart of the space. In this skylit minimalist Wunderkammer, most of their work comes into being.

    Much like the space, their work is characterized by a formal language and values that are distinctly and sometimes conflictingly rooted in both Scandinavian design and French industrial design history.

    — People have a tendency of talking about Scandinavian design as highly functional while the French is said to be more decorative. We do not define ourselves as typically French designers. Nowadays our inspiration is international and we consider ourselves functionalists, a tradition that exceeds the European context.

    — We always aspire to make an object in accordance with its context, while adding a sensitive layer, such as a pattern. Perhaps that is our nod to the ornamental tradition of France?

    For their recent collaboration with Muuto, the duo assessed the multiple functions and roles an object plays in our lives and how this differs based on its placement in a bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, restaurant or home office. Distilling this information, they aspired to create a universal and unpretentious object at ease in a multitude of settings.

    The Flow Trolley grew out of a familiar everyday object in their immediate milieu – the workshop trolley. Elevating something seemingly mundane and practical, they transformed Flow into a workshop trolley for the home. The flexible and refined monochrome design encourages freedom of expression in its user through a gist of versatility.

    We wanted to explore the different functions a trolley could fill, aspiring to make a truly versatile object that is simple with sophisticated details.

    "It is designed like a system, allowing the user the option of two different heights when assembling the trolley. We imagine this piece in so many settings, it is what we love about it. Flow Trolley is a trusty workshop trolley for domestic life."

    Returning to the subject of the stereotypically decorative nature of French design, the pairs explain how they enjoy when a decorative aspect has a functional origin. In this case, the trays are perforated with a pattern that creates a visual vibration, giving a strong sense of both lightness and character.

    Normal Studio has an unfussy and understatedly modern approach to the impact of their work, on both people and the planet, emblematic of a design studio with cultural and societal values at the heart of everything they do. In their characteristically forward-thinking and considered manner, the Flow Trolley comes flat-packed and ready-to-assemble.

    Flow Trolley

    Part of the MillerKnoll Collective