Presences

Isabelle Baudraz

Lausanne, Switzerland / Athens, Greece | Wood: Cherry

Isabelle Baudraz is a Swiss designer currently working between Lausanne and Athens. Baudraz trained as a jeweller before enrolling at ECAL to study industrial design. In 2016, she received the Prix d’Encouragement de la ville de Renens and with it gained the chance to create her first exhibition. Her ECAL project, a bench she designed for the Musée National Picasso-Paris in 2018, was also part of the Diego Giacometti exhibition there.

“It was an instinctive choice - we received all these beautiful samples from AHEC and I was really touched by the colour of the cherry and the texture of its grain. I also liked the fact that it was going to evolve and get darker with age.”
  • The design process

    The brief from AHEC arrived at the beginning of the country’s second lockdown and was warmly welcomed by Baudraz. ‘I thought that I could finally do something positive with this situation. That it would allow me to process it in some way.’ She came up with four different pieces linked by the same underlying sentiment. ‘The whole concept is to bring “presences” and companionship to people locked inside alone. And so some of them are more contemplative while others are more tactile,’ she says.

  • The making of the final piece

    According to Philipp Grundhoefer, design director of WeWood, the Portuguese workshop where the collection was made, Baudraz’s work was ‘the most challenging in terms of explaining it to the craftsmen in the workshop. They don’t see these kinds of objects on a daily basis. If you show them a chair or a shelf or a bench they know exactly what they have to do. Many of her pieces were about balance so we needed to be very precise. It’s nice to have these challenges for the workshop. It’s exciting, because usually they don’t get to produce so many pieces in such a short space of time.”

  • The end result

    Baudraz designed two different mobiles, Beans and Suspension, that hang from the ceiling. Each is made from two separate elements that balance on each other rather than being fixed together. ‘The idea was to bring nature inside and change the way we look at interior space,’ she explains. Meanwhile, Culbuto was initially intended to sit on a desk and wobble when pushed. Her final product, Anemone, is the most obviously tactile: a wall-mounted piece that uses layers of cherry veneer shaped like an elongated ‘U’. ‘The layers are so thin they can bend,’ she says. The idea is people brush them as they walk past and they simply ping back into place.