Life-changing decisions, pushing design boundaries and Karl Lagerfeld, we spoke to renowned furniture designer Philippe Nacson on his journey from finance to interiors.
It is not many designers that hold the accolade of being discovered by Karl Lagerfeld. Fewer still can claim to have done so after a successful 20 years in the finance industry managing multi-million pound portfolios. Furniture designer Philippe Nacson’s intriguing journey from investment banker to internationally acclaimed designer is anything but quotidian. Described by many as a designer in disguise, Philippe always held a strong affinity with design, learning to draw before he could speak. Leaving behind an illustrious career of numbers and charts, Philippe picked up his pencils and watercolours and made his foray into the wonderful world of design.
After launching his brand at the Ventura Lambrate show during Salone del Mobile in Milan 2014 amongst other emerging talents and innovative debuting designers, within the space of 3 years his furniture and lighting were showcased in Paris, London, Milan, New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai to the acclaim of renowned international collectors, most notably the late Karl Lagerfeld. His signature piece the Ant Lounge Chair is a vibrant orange masterpiece inspired by his childhood in Senegal and a personal fascination with the invisible tracks of red ants. With a commitment to sustainability, French handcrafted pieces, high quality and local materials Phillipe Nacson is now a celebrated and captivating international interiors brand.
We spoke to the former financier and now Ibiza local about life-changing decisions, pushing design boundaries and Karl Lagerfeld.
After 20 years in finance it must have been a momentous decision to suddenly change to a creative career. Why did you decide to make the move to design?
I have always been attracted by creativity and from a very young age I dreamt of doing something in photography or creating a clothing brand. Life decided otherwise, and I ended up studying finance and economics, so naturally I moved on to become an investment banker without asking myself too many questions.
Changing my life was not a complicated decision as I felt at the time that I really needed to move on from the investment bank and private equity world. It was a desire that had grown in me for quite a few years and one day I just decided to move on. I needed new challenges in my life and I had a few other interests I really wanted to explore. Design was one of them. It just happened by coincidence as I never expected that my drawings would land anywhere.
How did you end up meeting Karl Lagerfeld?
I was fortunate enough that word of mouth really worked out very well for me after my first show in Milan. I knew nobody in this industry and really started from scratch. The gallery which ended up representing me in Paris, Galerie Perpitch & Bringand, knew Sébastien Jondeau, the right-hand man of Karl Lagerfeld, who came to one my shows. He took a few pictures of my 3CL lamp and sent those to Karl. The next thing I knew he wanted to buy one and ended up shooting with it a lot for international magazines and newspapers. This happened a year after I started which obviously was a huge booster for me!
What is your creative process?
I have a very specific creation process. I draw objects in my head before sketching them on a piece of paper and I don’t use 3D software. I am trying more and more to develop objects that consider their use and their environmental impact. The thinking behind the classic models that we have seen so far is really something that I find extremely interesting. I think not having been trained as a designer and coming with a different background helps me a lot and prevents me from falling into the trap of replicating existing creations or models.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years I see myself as someone who has pushed existing boundaries with one thing in mind: trying to make this world a better place.
You’ve lived in the financial capitals all over the world before settling in Ibiza. What makes Ibiza different?
Living in Ibiza certainly brings me the right energy for creativity. I am very fortunate to live in a little paradise in the middle of nature and that connection establishes for me the cursors of life in the right place. Having lived abroad most of my life, I really value the mix of cultures that defines this beautiful island.”