We speak to Amélie Du Passage, the founder of design editor Petite Friture, about the company, working with interior designers, and what the future holds for emerging designers.
Born out of a desire to promote young design talents, design company Petite Friture was founded in 2009 by Amélie Du Passage. Having previously worked for the Ministry of Culture in France and at France’s leading art fair, FIAC, Passage found that the design she saw around her focused mainly on modern pieces. “There wasn’t much contemporary design. I think that’s how I fell into [it],” says Passage, “There were many good projects, but not many companies taking them on”.
Passage decided to “launch a company that would”, and Petite Friture was born - a company that works with new designers to develop a catalogue of curated objects, furniture and lighting. Interestingly, the company calls itself a ‘design editor’, which Passage explains in further detail; “It means two things: curating - making the choice of the specific product we are willing to carry to the market - and bringing [the product] to the market – having it produced.”
For Passage, curating the pieces and working on a collection includes “building a strong network and collaborating in a manageable way”. This was of particular importance when Petite Friture was first beginning; face to face conversations were key to meeting designers. “I just set my eye on their products, and phoned and mailed them to ask if we could meet,” says Passage. “Now I think trade shows do help– but ten years ago trade shows weren’t really involved, it was more about looking into press and blogs, graduate shows and prize-winners.”
The result of Passage’s perseverance is clear – Petite Friture now works with around 40 designers. However, this doesn’t mean that Passage has stopped looking for new, exciting work. “The idea is to go on spotting emerging talent and working with them,” she explains. “We also continue to work with our confirmed designers because it’s nice to have the mix… the nice thing with our current designers is we’ve already built the relationship.”
As a curator of contemporary design, Petite Friture often works with interior designers and architects that want to include the company’s products in their projects. Passage says that this relationship can often be quite complicated, because “each profile of customer will have different needs, and different ways of doing something.” However, it’s something she thinks works very well for the business, because “real life spaces are the best demonstration” of what Petite Friture can do.
“We’re not a brand that is specialised in lighting or in furniture so it makes sense to stage everything together,” Passage mentions; she gives the example of collaborating with Fora to create interiors for its new co-working space. “With Fora it was quite simple – it was a co-working space that was interested in having the right selection of products so that the people that work there have the right environment,” she explains. “Our aim and theirs matched and we decided we would collaborate to re-furnish [their space].”
When the topic of Petite Friture’s collection is brought up, Passage smiles. “We like that everything is quite eclectic, but that everything can fit together – and fit with other things, because in real life no one uses 100% Petite Friture. It’s just a question of choosing strong pieces that will match together,” she says. “We take a lot of pleasure in what we do. We’re passionate, and have a passion for design – it’s a good combination, having the business focus while wanting to do things that we think are worth it.”
Though Passage considers Petite Friture an international company, she remarks that designers in Europe are often those most interested in collaborating with editors and manufacturers – in comparison to those in North America, for example. This has created both positives and negatives for the company. “We do lighting, furniture, accessories, and we’re able to use many different materials because we are quite free to work with subcontractors,” Passage explains, “But because we don’t have an industrial line ourselves, the number of options we can offer the contractor market must be limited.”
“We can customise colours and materials but we will set the dimensions in advance, because designing new dimensions each time when you don’t have the production line is really difficult,” she continues. “What we will do is anticipates the needs of the market and have already in catalogue, three or four dimensions that are standard but will fit general needs. It’s much more manageable.”
Image: ©Constance Guisset
With such a large collection to hand, and a plethora of designers to work with, what does the future hold for Petite Friture? Passage laughs; “We grew a bit too quickly so the next step is to get a new, proper showroom – at the moment the showroom is also the office!” But office logistics aside, it seems that Petite Friture’s founder is thinking further than just the future of her company – instead, she’s intrigued by what the future of design itself will hold.
“I think the challenge for designers in the future will be about collaboration and dialogue,” she predicts. “New design fields will be coming up, and the real future for me [will be] about [remembering] direct communication and human relationships; networking and putting together the right talents in a creative way. I think the trick will be to be strong in what you do, but to also take care to build the right relationship to make it [happen] – and the balance between those.”
Feature image: photography ©Florent Tanet / styling ©Ella Perdereau