When Julien Lagueste recalls his childhood in the French town of La Trinité-sur-Mer, a memory firmly anchored in his mind are the summers his family spent by the sea. He was fascinated by the Mediterranean landscape, which It is therefore not by chance that the designer’s work evokes the shore, the pallor of the sand, the organic shape of the eroded stone, the reflections and the blue tint of the water. Using wood and epoxy resin for mesmerizing effect, Lagueste’s experimental series of coffee tables and side tables create the illusion of gazing at the cerulean-colored ocean itself.
It was for his 2016 dissertation at the Cread Institute in Lyon that Lagueste, 33, conceptualized the theme of his first collection, Souvenirs des îles. “I designed the first three pieces of furniture in my collection and made a prototype for my apartment,” he says. Even though Lagueste had formal training and great success showing his tables at Maison & Objet in 2018 and at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2019, his creative process involved its share of trial and error.
“I spent a lot of time perfecting my designs and learning wood and resin work,” he explains. “I had to invent different techniques that remind me of the transparency and depth of the seabed. We didn’t learn that kind of stuff in school.
Working with birch plywood and resin, Lagueste carries out all his orders by hand in his workshop in Nantes. For the base, he cuts out slices of wood, then sands and stacks them. The trays are created by combining resin with various pigments and applying up to five layers of the resulting mixture until the right balance between transparency and various sea-like effects is achieved. Coats take 24 hours to set before the next can be worked into the surface.
“Each piece takes a long time, but I like things that take time and do small batches,” he says. Even though the individual tables are made from the same materials, using the same backing, each example is one of a kind due to the countless variations of the resin. Other colors can be created upon request, and Lagueste is currently exploring a potential flower-inspired series. For now, birch wood, representing serenity and strata of rock, contrasted with a soft gradient of blue resin, is his signature, gently blurring the lines between furniture and art.