French architect and designer Laura Gonzalez doesn’t allow her work to be defined by either title: for her the two disciplines are entwined, and she demonstrates it in the commissions she takes. Her work ranges from the grand details of a Parisian brasserie and a Cartier store in Madrid to the patterns on the range of furniture she created as Maison & Objet’s designer of the year. The collection, displayed at M&O in September, was designed to bring the comfort and luxury of home to an office environment.
Here, Gonzalez tells OnOffice about her own work environment – and why wellbeing and the importance of family are central to her work and home life.
OnOffice: You trained as an architect, but lots of your work incorporates a much wider spectrum of design – how you describe yourself and your work?
Laura Gonzalez: I think architecture and design are linked; being interior architect means thinking about a way to live in a place, to imagine a restaurant, to create a store. When I work on a project I imagine it it my mind as a whole; with furniture, details and fixtures and fittings.
I am always looking for inspiration, I am curious, I search a lot in books, on internet, in my trips. My approach in architecture and design, is a sensitive approach; it allows you to understand what you see and it leads to new creations or to reinterpretation.
This is why my style can be so eclectic sometimes; I have no boundaries in my inspirations – fashion, books, architects, design, trips – I know what I don’t like but I can be be open to everything else. Classic references are important and I mix with different materials, shapes, or patterns.
OO: What aspects of your projects have you enjoyed the most and why?
LG: I like the conception part; the first part of the project when I research and look to my team; it is the beginning, where we exchange a lot and we propose ideas. I like also the worksite part, and the exchange with the craftsmen and the worker.
This job is a part of “office” working with my teams and a part of “site” – each day is different, each project is different and I like this.
What were the differences between designing your furniture collection and your architectural and interiors projects?
I am more free – I don’t have any constraints. If I can realize the sofa that I imagine it is the best; as I say in the first question, it allows me to think of the project as a whole.
OO: Can you tell us a bit about your office and why you chose to base it in a particular area of Paris?
LG: I live in the 16th arrondissement, my children school is in the 16th; so I had to work here!
For me it’s the most important point, to enjoy my family, to pick up my boys at school just before a meeting; it is simple; and with all the work we have, I have to be organised. Being close was the only solution!
OO: How many people work for your firm? How would you describe the work culture?
LG: The cohesion in my team is very important; I like to think that we are like a family; there is no competition, everybody has to be able to help each other.
I organise a team with one head per project and he or she organises the project after that. We do go on team-building trips each year, it is my way to say thank you for all the beautiful projects we realized and we will realize.
OO: How do you switch off from work, or is it impossible in such a creative profession?
LG: Yes it is quite impossible because I am always thinking to my projects and I am always looking for inspirations. Even during holidays, I take a lot of pictures of details of landscapes or furniture and fabrics!
Maison & Objet’s designer of the year tells OnOffice about her creative process – and the clever location of her office