MEET Tim Defleur
In Tim Defleur’s Lille, France flat, a monkey-shaped fixture stretches its arm to cast light on a minimalist office space, while a colorful paper bird holds court over the living room.
Has a degree in interior design.
Allows user to participate in ‘finishing’ the object.
Embraces analysis in his process.
"I love to discover a subject, learn about it and find solutions to improve this field. That’s what motivates me."
"I think that design follows societal changes. Sometimes, it even anticipates them. If we want to predict where design is going, we should focus on where people are going."
"As I was expanding my life in those ways, I was becoming more coherent with my idea of what I thought was beautiful. I was putting that on paper and applying it to design."
Bright yellows and blues saturate what might otherwise might be an austere and monochromatic palette. For this young designer, contrast is key. In his home and in his work, Tim Defleur marries color and material, lightness and darkness, sleek modernism and playful accents to create an aesthetic that, while carefully curated, has no lack of personality.
It’s his mantra brought to life: “New ways of life, new ways of work, new design opportunities.” While certainly eclectic, Tim Defleur’s vision remains undiluted by his many influences. By both embracing modern design and firmly setting himself apart from it, he has successfully created a design language all his own.
Early in your collegiate career, you studied interior design. What initially prompted you to pursue this, and how did you decide to make the switch to industrial design?
First I tried to enter the architecture school in Lille but I failed. Looking back, it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened; otherwise, I wouldn’t have discovered design.
I decided to pursue a technical degree in interior design instead. It was great. I learned so many things and met some close friends there. But it was too technical… I wanted to create more. So, in my third year, I joined the International School of Design (ISD) in Valenciennes to study industrial design. Actually, I had no clue what design was, and the first year was a pain. I had to learn the tools and the design culture. As an outsider, I had to prove myself. During my final year, I had the chance to do an internship with Alain Gilles, with who I am still working with today.
Being a relatively young designer, where do you draw inspiration from and how do you think that translates to your work?
As an industrial designer, I learned a method of creation that strongly emphasized analysis and design that is derived from insights. I would say that I continue to use this method today– I can’t stop analyzing things in my daily life, observing behaviors, finding problems to solve… For instance, even if I read a book about ants, I will think of how this or that might be applied to the design field; this brings me inspiration for future works. With this “never-ending” analysis, I feed my mind. It’s a way of opening doors to new design opportunities. I love to discover a subject, learn about it and find solutions to improve this field. That’s what motivates me.
How has working under Alain Gilles helped you in both your personal growth and the way you think about design?
During my internship, I used nights to work on reports for school. After that, working on personal things after work became a habit. After learning a designer’s tools and expertise at school, I got the chance to learn about other aspects of a designer’s life from Alain. For 5 years now, I continue to learn about communication, selling ideas, meeting the manufacturer, the client … As for my designs, I feel the need for them to be different from Alain’s work; to create my own vocabulary and vision. If this wasn’t the case, we would be competitors and that’s definitely not the point!
When looking at your work, the materials and color seem to coincide in a seamless and comfortable way. How do you choose your palette and material when first imagining your pieces?
Sometimes, I use the material or the manufacturing process as the starting point of a project. If this is the case, the job becomes making sure that the material is made as relevant as possible through whatever technique we are using. I’m also able to experiment with many different finishes, thanks to 3D renderings and photoshop. These tools allow me to find the right color to best illustrate my idea.
Finally, I like to keep the material raw and let the user “finish” the product; let them be part of the design process. This is exemplified in my Modèle Déposé collection: a furniture set crafted from simple wood panels.
How did you find out about OTHR and what excites you most about the platform?
3D printing is interesting for designers because it allows us to do anything and everything. It can be a great tool in the design process for prototyping, but when it’s used to make products, I find that it’s often used in the wrong way. “Hey look, you can 3D print your face!” ...Wow…great…and then??
When I discovered Othr and their collection on the web, I thought it was a great way to make use of 3D printing possibilities. It’s not gadget; it’s well-finished and high-end, with real artistic direction. I like products when they have a purpose. Even more, I like to use wood because of its inherent properties. In that spirit, 3D printing allows new possibilities in terms of shape, use and mechanism that you can’t do any other way. And that is really exciting!
Where do you see the future of design headed?
I think that design follows societal changes. Sometimes, it even anticipates them. If we want to predict where design is going, we should focus on where people are going.
It goes without saying that globalization offers new possibilities in design. I, a French designer, will launch a product with you, Othr—a US company—and the pictures will be made by a Belgian photographer, Tim Van de Velde, for Freunde von Freunden—a German company. That’s just crazy! But it appears that global thinking turns out to be increasingly local. People are reconsidering things on a smaller scale, even on an individual level; there are movements to grow your own vegetables and fruits in community gardens, build your piece of furniture in a Fablab…. For decades, we’ve said that “form follows function.” I agree, but I don’t think it’s enough anymore. I would add that “form follows user,” to perfectly fit their lives and daily needs.
Finally, what do you hope to accomplish through your designs?
It’s may be too mainstream, but when I started considering a design career, I wanted to solve problems; improve the user’s way of living and working. I’m still young and that still excites me! But during these five last years, I also discovered that the story one tells through their designs is very important. I love bringing poetry into the design by using references from the collective memory, so that the product’s intelligence is immediately understood.