Riwan Coëffic x Ward Wijnant
7 May 2021
Pillow Talk is the latest concept from COLLECTIBLE In-Depth. This series of articles instigates design encounters in a playful setting. The idea is simple: we pair designers from the Curated Section and each duo then freely chooses three questions to ask to each other. They can tackle any subject, within the realm of design - or not! Today’s duo is Riwan Coëffic and Ward Wijnant.
Ward Wijnant: I see that you graduated in 2020. This must be the most unusual graduation year ever, without the promising Graduation Show during DDW. How did you experience that?
Riwan Coëffic: The Graduation Show from the Design Academy is indeed one of the assets of the school. Without that nor the full access to the workshops, there was not much left. It hasn’t been easy for anybody, but I believe every graduate from this troubled time just feels dropped in the middle of a big puddle of fog. We’re left with questions: Does it still make sense to be an artist / designer? More than ever? How do I get my work out there? So I just try to keep going, get closer to the people who inspire me and be patient for this big mess to settle down.
“I like to focus on these little everyday details we all share, and use them to create relatable designs.”
WW: You’re just starting in the design industry; a diverse landscape with many possibilities. What kind of designer do you want to become?
RC: Well, in some manner, I want to become a designer who keeps looking. I want to stay true to what matters to me, but still be open enough to see new things coming. I’m giving a lot of importance to intuition and spontaneity, through drawing, inspiration, making. I wish to be able to let that flow. I believe it’s important to give materiality to the everyday little things that make me happy, so that’s what I’ll try to do. And yeah, I want to become a designer who can afford to keep being a designer.
WW: I love the small writings on the lines in ‘Plateaux des Fruits’ and ‘Jean Claude Vandale’. For me this is a nice memory of Design Academy Eindhoven. Just a guess: Good ideas arise during a visit to the toilet? ;-P
RC: Thanks! Somehow yes! I was then exploring the possibilities of the white ceramic tiles, and realized how versatile this material is. Wherever we study, we live, we grow-up, we’re confronted with so many similar things. People do appropriate the space through soft-vandalism, in a French metro station, a Dutch school, a German club, an Italian restaurant. I like to focus on these little everyday details we all share, and use them to create relatable designs. It was the very beginning of the project Chlore Cocktail, my second graduation project, which is all about white ceramic tiles and collective memories.
Riwan Coëffic: You seem to have a really strong affinity with metal, as a material and a means of expression, even though you’ve studied wood: where does that come from?
Ward Wijnant: Indeed, I started my studies at the Wood and Furniture College in Rotterdam. After that, I continued my education at Design Academy Eindhoven, where I was introduced to a broad range of materials. Even though I like to work with a lot of different materials, you’re right that metal attracts me. Metal has boundaries and I like to play with them in the construction and treatment of it. I challenged myself to experiment with blacksmithing and in the end it showed me the hidden diversity. The complexity to manipulate it makes it even more interesting. I lost count of all the burns and scars, but they’re worth the discovery!
“Do what you like, believe in your talent and strengths, follow your gut and don’t let yourself be distracted from the path you want to follow.”
RC: We’re born barely 10 years apart, and we’ve chosen somewhat similar ways to express ourselves: what would you say to the Ward from 10 years ago that would help him through life? (Asking for a friend)
WW: Do what you like, believe in your talent and strengths, follow your gut and don’t let yourself be distracted from the path you want to follow. You will learn from mistakes, they will empower you at the end of the day. Don't beat yourself up, it’s part of the journey.
RC: How would you describe your thought process behind your project? Are you looking for a specific result? Stumbling upon discoveries?
WW: I never start with a specific result in mind, the process let's my creativity flow. The unexpected as a discovery in a material inspires me. My way of working starts with an interest in a technique or material and I then get excited to experiment with the diversity of it. I’m fascinated by looking for boundaries in a material or method and I want to see how far I can push them. However, in the final phase, my requirements for the finish and detail are quite specific.
About Riwan Coëffic (France)
Riwan Coëffic is an artist and designer working at the intersection of product design, sculpture, and illustration. In a spontaneous and obsessional way, Riwan uses drawings to translate and to compose formal intuitions then shaped into physically tangible and functional furniture. In his practice, functionality is explored as a medium that gives shape to sensed and felt atmospheres.
About Ward Wijnant (Netherlands)
Ward Wijnant’s practice combines a broad material knowledge developed during his studies at the Wood and Furniture College Rotterdam, with strong conceptual thinking learned at the Design Academy Eindhoven. While paying attention to detail and finishes, Ward interprets the diversity of methods and materials, afterwards translated into contemporary designs.