Atelier CUB Tonight lamps are now available in our Old Montreal boutique. For the occasion, we share with you an interview I did with this creative duo for the storiesmtl website where you will learn more about their history and their work. I hope that reading this portrait will bring you positive and luminous insights in these anxious times! Happy reading. xx
It is in their warm Old Rosemont apartment that Sophie and Richard welcome us. Sophie serves us tea in one of their leather and wood tray. Above us, several light fixtures are suspended, "all prototypes that we are testing" Richard tells us. Their décor is eclectic, convivial and seems to want to tell stories.
It is surely their colourful and surprising journey that is reflected in every detail of their home, which, like their creations, reveals a glimpse of adventure and a ray of freedom.
A new lease of life
It was with a fairly clear idea of where they were going that the duo settled in Montreal, after years of collaborations in France and Morocco. Both were thirsty for a career change to turn to manual work and have both hands in the matter. They left sound engineering to study art cabinet making, she left graphic arts to study leatherwork. This atypical path gives them more than one string to their bow and will make their new adventure richer and more mature.
Their objective was clear: once their studies are completed, they will collaborate together, combining their new expertise. In the spring of 2017, they launched Atelier CUB for "leather union wood"
Working in pairs or being "connected"
Sophie immediately admits: "We decided to do everything together: we live together, we work together, we decorate, we tinker... together". When we ask them if it's difficult to be together all the time, they seem surprised, as if they had never asked themselves the question or even considered that it could be otherwise. They seem to know each other and seem to have been part of each other's lives forever.
"It's hard to put words on what we do, because together we don't have to," confirms Sophie. "We are connected", adds Richard, with this expression that makes a nod to his projects in the field of cinema.
The strength of such a natural duo is the confidence and strength that the presence of one brings to the other. You can feel this strength when you talk to them, as an unfailing support, which not only prevents them from falling but also throws them forward. It is touching and makes their project even more endearing.
But what about their network in all this? Because a company needs to live outside the symbiotic relationship of the founders! The spirit of collaboration, they find it in their shared workshop spaces, in projects where they collaborate with other artists and by teaching, for example. Sophie and Richard seem to be two jack-of-all-trades who appreciate a full and varied agenda.
Inspiration and creation
The duo takes the time to create slowly and make sure they have some perspective before finalizing the creation of a new piece.
It is fascinating to see the small cardboard models built to validate the proportions of their furniture and objects. It is also essential for them to make sure that the mixture of leather and wood materials has its purpose and does not seem forced. Inspired by different photographic currents such as the new objectivity but also by urban wastelands and buildings that may at first glance seem cold and strict, they know how to add conviviality to their work in different ways, almost unconsciously.
First of all by their preferred materials - wood and leather are generally recognized for their warm appearance - but also by the presentation of the products themselves. Indeed, far from the studio looks, products with slim, slender lines are presented in soft, lively settings. Natural light and a soft colour palette counterbalance the architectural design of their furniture and accessories. This desire for warmth and life probably comes from their pleasure in receiving guests, which motivates them to design the best tools for these shared moments.
The facets of entrepreneurial life
Like many designers, Sophie and Richard find design and manufacturing more natural than some other aspects of their business. In line with her past career, Sophie says she takes great pleasure in creating the brand's graphic charter, website and images. This can be felt in the rendering of sensitive compositions.
But the difficulties of playing the role of salesperson or social network manager, for example, outweigh the pleasure of managing one's own schedule. This is a learning process; the fear of disrupting and finding the courage to take the lead with customers is less natural for both.
It is indeed very difficult to exhibit work with which one has such a personal relationship, with which one is so involved. On the other hand, the pleasure of receiving positive comments from the public and then taking that energy to continue creating, gives them the motivation to surpass themselves from one show to the next, whether it is here in Montreal or in New York. This contact with potential buyers gives them the opportunity to create stimulating custom-made projects that allow them to integrate their universe into the daily lives of their clients.
Freedom as a way of life
What emerges from the story of Sophie and Richard is the sense freedom they give off. Freedom to move to another city, to start a new career, to create without wanting to please at all costs, by being faithful to their inspirations and aspirations. Freedom to take one's time, to move forward slowly, which is often against the tide in the age of start-ups. All this is palpable in their creations, imprinted with their memories and their history. As the song says, "home is wherever I'm with you".