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Designer Series - Léonard Kadid Interview

Léonard Kadid is an architect and product designer based in Paris, France. From object to architecture, the work of his studio focuses on structural experimentation and formal simplification to explore the intrinsic characteristics of matter. After 

studying at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland and the École d'Architecture de la Ville et des Territoires in Paris, Léonard collaborated with some renowned international offices, before setting up his own studio.

Léonard’s latest product is the Pier range, which Resident has recently released. This week we got to chat to Léonard about his life as a designer, and we are happy to share the below interview with you - 

Léonard, where were you born and what were your early days like ?

I was born in a small town near Paris and lucky to have a twin brother. We enjoyed a very free childhood with lots of opportunities for experimentation. My brother and I were also both huge fans of science fiction and still are to this day.

Were you drawn to architecture or design first, and how ?

I actually thought about design first. I was fascinated by aeronautic and aerospace while growing up so I chose to study aerodynamic physics after high school. A year later I realised that mathematical driven forms weren't what I was looking for, so I changed to architecture. Architecture and product design became complementary for me and shortly after starting my studies I developed a parallel research in producing objects. In 2010, while working at the office Herzog & de Meuron in Switzerland, I made a very thin plywood lamp that used a book as a base. It was exhibited internationally and I guess it officially started my design career. 

Herzog & de Meuron have consistently produced incredible work over the years. What is different about that companies culture which allows this?

The offices architectural production strategy is to gather diverse and talented people with singular profiles, from all around the world. This creates a rich cultural environment where very interesting concepts can emerge.

You have just released the Pier Chair and Stools for Resident. What were the main challenges with regard to finalising that design and getting it into production ?

The simplicity of the Pier Collection hides a challenging design process. The cylindrical solid oak elements, inspired by the wooden pillars of pier structures, are all assembled using round tenon and mortise joints. More complex to manufacture, these type of joints allow the wood fibres to be continuous through the solid oak elements to create strong and durable connections. Another main challenge was to keep a frameless solid oak seat to save weight and to keep the simplicity of the design by integrating two solid oak cross beams below it. 

Which aspect of the Pier designs are you the most proud of ?

The collection is radical in the sense of the simplicity of its structure and assembly. There is no compromise. The double curved surfaces of the backrest and the seat complete the straightforward design of the chairs and stools which aims to make them timeless pieces of furniture. 

What other projects are you currently working on ?

 I am currently working on a massive aluminium table lamp with an integrated magnetic switcher that will be released soon. As an architect, I am designing the extension of a Parisian apartment with 5m high windows and a concrete house in Greece. I enjoy working internationally in both practices.

How are you doing through the pandemic ?

The Pier Collection was planned to be released in Milan this year but due to the pandemic the presentation was made online. It would have been great to have people experiencing the feel and the comfort of the pieces but Resident organised a very interesting Webinar to present the collection that everyone could see at the same time all over the world. Lockdown has given me the opportunity to take time to reflect about the direction that I want my work to evolve. 

What do you think are your main strengths as a designer ?

I am able to work on all scales whilst exploring the characteristics of matter through structural and formal experimentation.

How about your weaknesses?

I enjoy taking my time to develop a project. From the early concept to the production, I allow time to question every aspect of the project to reach its essence. This can sometimes have conflict with deadlines!

What are your interests outside design and architecture ?

Travelling is my main source of inspiration. Being surrounded by different cultures and environments allows me to take some steps back from what I am familiar with, extending the fields of possibilities.