After spending 10 years in Japan, Laur Meyrieux opened her design studio in Hong Kong. In order to bring her highly demanding clients the utmost satisfaction, the designer offers global design solutions which cover every step of a new project right up to the finished product. The delicate care she takes with even the smallest details can, at first glance, seem obviously simple. Yet, as is often the case with those who are the best in their field, this apparent naturalness hides, in reality, her relentless and uncompromising work. Here, Laur Meyrieux analyses the defining steps in her boundary-breaking career for us.
Laur, what was your initial calling?
Design – in the widest possible sense of the word – was part of my destiny. My grandmother was a painter. My father, an architect, had his own firm. I visited many exhibitions with my parents, we would talk about art and culture… I took my first art lessons outside of school. However, I never saw myself taking up my father’s profession. I had a taste for beautiful things, and a desire to create them. In which form? I did not really know. Enrolling at the Saint-Etienne School of Fine Arts (école des Beaux-Arts de Saint-Etienne) seemed to me to be a good solution, because the course covers an extensive range of artistic practices.
Did you then choose to specialise?
I was conscious of the economic uncertainty that awaited me if I continued following a path with no definite professional aims. Saint-Etienne was renowned for design, and rightly so, and it was for this field that I was awarded the national degree in visual arts. I really liked design, but I did not want to specialise definitively while I was still so young. Therefore I joined the National Graduate School of Decorative Arts (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs –ENSAD) in Paris with the intention of exploring areas I did not know, such as furniture design, stage design, interior design…I graduated from ENSAD in 1993.
Did you then work at a company?
As an employee, no. What started as an instinctive choice – not limiting myself to a particular sector – became a principle which still determines my current decisions. To this principle I added a second: only collaborate with people whose work I admire, no matter their field, and only respond to proposals which I truly like.
How did you proceed?
At art schools with a good reputation, students often are given the opportunity to attend workshops or conferences with external contributors, a great majority of which end up being active professionals. It was in this way that Kristian Gavoille offered me freelance work. I worked with him to produce the stage design for an important design exhibition at the Grand Palais. Working for someone like him involves understanding and respecting his style. I looked for ideas, materials, I carried out plans and gave presentations to clients. I continued to take on assignments for the next eight years.
Did you carry on working as a freelancer?
Yes, and this suited me perfectly. I’m not saying there weren’t hard times. At the beginning, the ends of the months were particularly difficult and it was impossible to take time off. However, these setbacks were very quickly offset by the great pleasure my work brought me. I got to work with big names! I designed concert hall seats for Jean Nouvel, produced trend books for Nelly Rodi and played a hands-on role with Ron Arad, using my blowtorch to solder joints in order to produce his ‘sculptural design’. I also designed and produced the VIP lounges for SNCF stations. It was the first time that I was managing the work of an entire team on a project, including work produced by companies. It was the diverse and plentiful nature of my previous experience that made it possible for me to do. Without that, I would not have been credible or efficient.
Is it easy to find people with a reputation of this kind?
I don’t know, but I have always been audacious enough to approach people who interest or fascinate me. My convictions also took me to where I wanted to go. My actions were always a result of my choices, not of weakness or obligation. I had no contacts in Paris but a good art school puts you in touch with the right people. Chance and luck also had a role to play, it’s true. But in my case it was minimal. It was my perseverance and my passion that paid off. I knocked on doors, my portfolio under my arm. I still believe that if the work is good, or at least promising, and the person proves themselves to be truly motivated and hardworking, somewhere along the line they will meet someone who gives them the opportunity they need.