Christophe Delcourt: the story of an éditeur Français

A unique designer, Christophe Delcourt is the meeting point between the worlds of crafts and design. A love of fine workmanship and materials, described in this interview, tracing back through the beginnings, the collaborations and the philosophy of his maison d’édition

Christophe Delcourt - Photo © Francis Amiand
Christophe Delcourt - Photo © Francis Amiand

HE CALLS HIMSELF AN ÉDITEUR, MORE THAN A DESIGNER. AND HIS STUDIO IS A MAISON D’ÉDITION. CHRISTOPHE DELCOURT ERASES THE LIMITS OF CATEGORIES TO BLEND CREATIVITY AND HANDIWORK, CONCEPTS THAT BELONG TO DIFFERENT DIMENSIONS, THOSE OF AUTHENTIC CRAFTSMANSHIP AND INDUSTRIAL DESIGN. THE RESULT IS A FREE INTERPRETATION OF INTERIOR DESIGN, THE PUREST EXPRESSION OF MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUES OF MAKING. BORN IN 1966, SELF-TAUGHT, DELCOURT HIT THE FRENCH DESIGN SCENE IN THE 1990S BY OPENING A GALLERY IN THE MARAIS, PARIS. HIS DELCOURT COLLECTION IS “FIRST OF ALL THE ASSERTION OF THIS EXTENSION BETWEEN THE HAND OF THE DESIGNER AND THAT OF THE ARTISAN, PREFERRING DISCRETION OVER EXCESS AND TAKING INSPIRATION FROM AN ARCHITECTURAL FEATURE, A WORK OF ART, A MATERIAL OR A TECHNIQUE.” FROM CRAFTSMEN, HE HAS LEARNED THE TRADE, AND THIS TEEMING WORLD – OF METALWORKERS, CABINETMAKERS, UPHOLSTERERS, CERAMISTS – ACCOMPANIES HIM IN HIS CREATIONS. HE HAS WORKED WITH MANY COMPANIES – BAXTER, ROCHE BOBOIS, HC 28, MINOTTI, TECTONA, WALL&DECÒ, COLLECTION PARTICULIÈRE, CC-TAPIS – ENABLING HIM TO EXPLORE THE LIMITS OF WHAT DESIGN CAN DO: THE MATERIAL SHOWS HIM THE WAY. 

Where does the passion for craftsmanship stems comes from
I learned my craft with artisans. I did not pursue any studies in design or interior design. So it is through my contact with the manufacturing that I learned how one assembles elements, wood, metal, how one works with materials. And it is thanks to the men I met that I was able to get passionate about design and learn about it.

How much space does it have in today’s design and production processes?
It is the core of our DNA, our definition. It also is a way to differentiate. I think the strength of craftsmanship in France because we have small structures, that are more flexible than large industrial ones, as can be found in Italy. It also is a local culture. I think it is today adapted to the needs of a specific high-end clientele who wishes to get made-to-order pieces that adapt to their projects.

Christophe Delcourt Showroom

Form – material – emotion: which is the predominant component in your creations?
We always start with a material. It is foremost the material that is going to define an object. Because we also start a projet with a manufacturer. A manufacturer, a material, a drawing. I often consider that if we have a good drawing but not the right manufacturer, we won’t get too much of a result. It also is the material that inducts a sensation, an emotion, and that it is what inspires me in the beginning. 

Do objects influence space or vice versa?
It’s almost a metaphysical question! I consider myself a designer before an interior designer, so I always hope some of our objects will inspire architects.

Declourt Collection - Design Christophe Delcourt
Declourt Collection - Design Christophe Delcourt

Delcourt Collection

Declourt Collection - Design Christophe Delcourt

Delcourt Collection

What is the idea of home being Delcourt Collection?
It is a high-end know-how, firstly revolving around materials, and mostly wood. Wood because it is a raw material, a construction material, a noble and natural material. Even our sofas are made from a wooden structure. So wood really is our primary raw material. And a network of French craftsmen, with time it has become a whole family around the brand to make beautiful, honest, and timeless products.

You’re both an éditeur and a designer for other brands: two separate aspects of your professional identity or are they interconnected?
What we draw for other Houses, we could not do it for ours. This is what interests me, to have other experiences that are not similar to our methodology, the way we manufacture. I also accept to draw for others because I like to learn, to discover, to understand other aspects of this trade.

Collection Particulière - Design Christophe Delcourt
Collection Particulière - Design Christophe Delcourt

Collection Particulière

Collection Particulière - Design Christophe Delcourt

Collection Particulière

You work with many French and international companies: which directions is the furniture world taking?
First of all, one must have strong points of view, believing in your own ideas. I think that is what we do. Hence we do not necessarily look at what others do. We try to develop our own story, which has been going on for 25 years now. That is the thread we are working with. Within that frame, we always come up with new ideas, new desires. But if I had to say that one thing has changed, it would be seatings. We maybe work differently in that category because spaces are de-compartmentalizing. The areas we work with are much bigger, much more open. And so I’d say it’s though seatings one can find the newest ways of living. Our maison d’édition also allows us to understand the market with its key players, both the clients and the interior designers. It’s always a delicate balance between evolutive functions and new shapes.

You’ve been working with Minotti fora long time: on what values is this synergetic collaboration based? What do you appreciate the most about the company?
It is an independent and family business. I directly deal with the founder’s children, who have developed this brand from the heart. To me, it is an understanding with a group of people with whom I have a subject matter affinity.

Christophe Delcourt Showroom

Any preferences among the product you have designed?
It’s always the latest creation. It is the most fragile, the smallest, the one we are going to push with love and conviction, tell him he is the most beautiful, it will grow up and have many many babies of its own.