Igniting the Imagination
A combination of a passion for design and deep knowledge of engineering and manufacturing brought married couple Charlotte Foussat and Javier Peces together in their common lighting design studio Simone & Marcel. It also brought them home to Javier’s native Toledo in Spain, from life as professional nomads, living in the US, China and England. From their Spanish base, the duo creates spectacular lighting designs made in collaboration with local craftspeople, oftentimes in locally sourced alabaster.
The conceptions of Simone & Marcel are playful and elegant at the same time. With inspiration taken from creative interpretations of shapes and objects that surround us, the couple has created a unique take on lighting design, as well as contributing to the local economy.
Looking at your works, words like timeless, monumental and tactile come to mind. What are the sources of inspiration behind your pieces?
We find inspiration for our shapes comes from various sources. When we travel or walk around the city, we observe everything. From the shape of a parasol outside a restaurant to the funny look of a cartoon character (which was the inspiration for the ‘Edna’ table lamp in alabaster). We have been inspired by food, monuments, jewellery, and anything that crosses our paths. We tend to prefer rounded, curved shapes as we found them softer on the eyes. We play with contrast, accumulation and a lot of natural materials.
As we ourselves are a duo, creative duos fascinate us. What respective experience and skills do both of you bring to the table within Simone & Marcel?
We are different, perhaps even complete opposites, which is a great thing, since we both have strong personalities and both are a bit stubborn. As our strengths lie in different areas, we complement each other. Otherwise, it would never have worked. In the day-to-day operations, Javier is in charge of engineering, finance, production and suppliers. I manage the design, marketing and sales. However, all strategic decisions are always taken together.
”We find inspiration for our shapes comes from various sources. When we travel or walk around the city, we observe everything. From the shape of a parasol outside a restaurant to the funny look of a cartoon character.”
Can you give us some insight into your creative process, from an abstract idea to the materialisation of the final piece of lighting?
The creative process starts whenever we have a design idea in our mind, usually when we are not working and outside of our workshop. I am more sensitive to aesthetics than Javier, therefore it will usually be me asking Javier what he thinks of a certain design idea. Javier will then determine how to make it with regard to feasibility and cost. We will then create a prototype in our workshop, photograph and upload it on our website and on social media. In the meantime, we look for a local supplier to manufacture parts of the design in small batches. Although we can work with any material in our workshop, we are specialized in metal fabrication, for other materials we like to work with local artisans and experts. All our lighting is designed and assembled in our workshop in Toledo.
We adore your usage of alabaster. What draws you to this locally-sourced natural stone, and how is it suited for lamps in particular?
Alabaster is a stone similar to marble, but it has a translucent feature which makes it a very nice material to use in lighting. It has a strong variation characteristic, meaning each piece has a unique tone and veining pattern, which brings a feeling of uniqueness to the lamp. The main quarries of alabaster are located in Spain, which makes it even more meaningful for us. We are amongst very few lighting designers to use tobacco alabaster, which is a derivate from white alabaster and can be found only in Spain and only in one location.