In the heart of old Paris, a stone's throw from the Louvre and the Bourse de Commerce, now reopened to the public with the Pinault Collection, a small design gallery stands out to the eyes of the modern flâneur as a small treasure box crowded with rich contemporary furnishings. It is among the windows of the old Passage Véro-Dodat that Pierre Gonalons inaugurated in 2019 the showroom of his brand Pierre Gonalons Éditions, an entrepreneurial project as much as a design project that offers the French designer the opportunity to promote his products with audacity and without mediation.
"I've been looking for years for a showroom where I could represent my pieces," he tells us. "As soon as I scouted out this space, I didn't hesitate to recreate a decor that I could never have achieved even on the street next to this one. The result is a precious store, dominated by a neoclassical identity that I declined through the design of every detail, from the floor to the stucco. I am certainly a contemporary designer, but I like the idea of mixing the history of Parisian decoration with current impulses, obtaining a new balance."
Set up in the gallery's small space with the density that is typical of the restricted spaces of the French capital, Gonalons' pieces stand out as a formal synthesis that draws on different eras, but does not allow the outcome of this fusion to be dated with certainty. This is the case of his San Primo sofa, a name that gathers and harmonizes multiple cues: the name of his grandfather of Italian origin, the lines of the landscape around Lake Como, but also the figure of an ideal silhouette stretched over a chaise longue, according to a process of infinite semiosis that, Gonalons emphasizes, necessarily opens up to the legitimate interpretations of those who appropriate it.
Active, in addition to his eponymous brand, with numerous collaborations for brands in France and Italy, a country to which he is very attached and with which he boasts important collaborations such as those with Paradiso Terrestre and Masiero, Gonalons does not share the typically Italian suspicion about the figure of the "design decorator," a label which, on the contrary, he appropriates as a ground for experimentation rich in potential. "I always try to mix a reflection on the era, an exercise in style that works on decorative history, with a more personal narrative that is inspired by my own experiences as well as by the client I find myself collaborating with. I believe that today design has the opportunity to mix a decoration related to the surface with its more conceptual version, emphasizing the narrative to propose to the public objects capable of conveying a complex identity."
Intrigued by the sensoriality of materials, of which he challenges the laws of gravity as in the case of his Loggia armchair’s unexpected marble structure, or by the ambivalent effects of overlapping multiple layers of his Smash coffee table or its See Through armchair for Paradiso Terrestre, it is ultimately with a veiled irony that Gonalons subtly plays with our expectations. Confusing the traces of his inspirations and interventions under the codes of an only apparent luxury, and making of a free innovation, rich but never over the top, the real matrix of his research.
- Pierre Gonalons