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    Cobra Studios

    Cobra Studios

    1. Where were you born and where are you from ?

    Kenny : Born in Bruges, Belgium.
    I left Belgium after my studies to go and work in Paris, where I met Hugues

    Hugues : Born in Caen, Normandy
    I studied in Paris
    Hugues works mainly out of Paris and Kenny mainly out of Brussels. We spend our weekends together.

    2. What is your first memory connected to the art world ?

    Kenny : My first memory is a visit to the Notre Dame-du-haut in Ronchamp when I was 15 years old. Until that moment I always had the impression that architecture was functional and did not have an extra layer, granted I was still a young bird. The chapel designed by Le Corbusier thought me another language in architecture. You can break loose from the « standardized » world and create distinctive pieces/buildings. The intimacy, the claire-obscure, the small windows that work like light fixtures,… So many ideas brought together that in a bizarre way work perfectly.

    Hugues : I spend my holidays in my uncle’ s house when I was a child. He was a collector, his “maison bourgeoise” was full of nice objects, paintings and design furniture.
    But my first connection was when I studied the villa Cavrois by Robert Mallet-stevens. I was impressed by the elegance and the simplicity of this moderniste architecture.

    3. Have you always worked in the art/design field ?

    Kenny: I studies architecture and Civil engineering at the university in Ghent, Belgium. After my studies I moved to Paris for two reasons: 1. Where can you better develop architecture and art than in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. 2. I really needed to learn French… I started working as an Architect and have been doing this for the past 12 years.

    Hugues: I studied “les arts plastiques and scenography” in Paris.
    Then I started to work in luxury fashion industry as a visual merchandiser & set designer.
    For sure fashion has always been connected to art & design. It’s inspirational.

    4. What led you to the design creation ?

    It’s actually because of the place where we live right now. We moved to a new apartment on the ground floor of a city mansion in Brussels. The building was once owned by the Belgian painter Franz Kegeljan, who in 1910 commissioned the architect Paul Saintenoy to build a private mansion in the Louis XV style. The first six months we had to get used to the height of the ceilings. We came from a small student flat. Our furniture looked tiny, as if it came out of a dollhouse.

    We were always in awe when sitting on the sofa, the height of the ceiling (5,6m high) is quite imposing.
    This vast interior eventually motivated us to design our own furniture. An ambition that Kenny had been harbouring for some time as he worked together with Perrault on the furniture of the National library in France. It sort of also had to do with some frustration we had. We couldn’t find the table we wanted and certainly not on a limited budget, so we designed it ourselves. Coming from two different worlds (architecture vs fashion) we found out that we are very complimentary in creating design objects. It came very naturally. At one point we made the decision to not buy any furniture but to just design it all ourselves.

    5. How would you describe your creative process and it influences ?

    It’s actually very eclectic. The Marcello mirrors are based on the potato shapes of 1960’s mirrors. These used to be at the house of Hugues’ grandmother Marcelle (hence the name).
    We always look for contrast in materials, colour,… At one point they were redoing the paving of our street. We grabbed pieces of asphalt because we loved the texture and decided to recreate a tabletop.
    We have also found reflector lights in a garbage pile next to a highway. We loved the design and are now trying to recreate a piece with this object in the back of our mind.
    In all fairness, we never had a specific assignment to design something. We pick up elements from our daily life that we find, mostly unconventional and try to rework those into a “design” element.

    6. Could you describe a typical day of your work ?

    We both have a full-time day job. Our jobs are quite stressful and don’t let us too much time for creativity during the day. We missed this creativity, sometimes we can’t wait to stop our daily job, go to the atelier and pass an entire night designing pieces, taking a chainsaw and start carving pieces,… We needed something we could do with our own hands. It sort of frees our mind.

    7. Why did you choose the specific materials you work with ?

    We sort of bumped into it. We thought that the usual furniture scene was quite boring. Everything is in wood, metal or stone. We wanted to create colourful pieces that can brighten up a bland room. We wanted to have glass-like finish, create transparency when we wanted it too, or be fully opaque if that was our wish. The moment you know how resin works, the possibilities are endless. We are currently trying fabrics and soft materials, aluminium, stones,… But we always try to let it collaborate with resin elements.

    8. What are the technical particularities of your creations ?

    We never want to see how a piece is fixed and we want to emphasize this by putting the focus on the supporting elements. The legs of our tables always pierce through the tabletops. It’s a specific language that we like, it organises the pieces itself and it gives them more importance than the connecting piece (tabletop). The less mechanical fixture we have, the better. If pieces can connect or intertwine, it surely has our preference.

    9. What advices could you give to beginning artists who would like to create sculptural design works ?

    Design with a free mind, the furniture scene is quite generalised, and the key is to get out of that generalisation. A basic table has four legs, but that’s only because it’s structurally the easiest way. Everything that exists today in the furniture scene can be revisited, but it’s better to create with an open mind as much as possible.

    10. If your works had to belong to a design movement, in which one would you define it ?

    Maybe an abstract classical artform. For example our Pilastro table is based and ancient Roman columns, but made abstract, semi-transparent and colourful.

    11. What designers have influenced you ?

    Donald Judd for his minimalism and comfort.
    Charlotte Perriand for the elegance in her furniture.

    12. What contemporary designers do you appreciate ?

    Reisinger studio: let alone for the graphics they can bring forward.
    Francesco Balzano: He has the ability to make objects of half a ton seem light as a feather.
    Niko Koronis: because he is a lot of fun!

    13. What contemporary artists (in any kind of art) have you been inspired by ?

    Anish Kapoor / Matthew Barney / Pierre Soulages

    14. If you had to summarize your creations in one word or sentence, what would it be ?

    Our pieces are a certain form of light living, naïve but such fun.

    15. Is there anything you would like to add ?

    Proust Questionnaire with very short answers (one or a few words) :
    (The Proust Questionnaire is a set of questions answered by the French writer Marcel Proust. Other historical figures who have answered confession albums are Oscar Wilde, Karl Marx, Arthur Conan Doyle, Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Cézanne…)

    1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

    Kenny & Hugues: It’s an inner feeling of warmth and joy.

    2. What is your greatest fear?

    Kenny & Hugues: Losing the people we love

    3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

    Kenny: I like being right…
    Hugues: I sometimes have bad temper

    4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

    Kenny: people that always want to be right
    Hugues: being a diva

    5. Which living person do you most admire?

    Kenny: My mother of course
    Hugues: yes, my mother

    6. What is your greatest extravagance?

    Kenny: the wedding we are planning in Italy.
    Hugues: spending my money on jewellery / if I were rich, I would go crazy

    7. What is your current state of mind?

    Kenny: A bit too peacefull, I’m not the biggest clubber but I miss it.
    Hugues: I am relaxed and feel very creative / as Kenny I miss techno parties.

    8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

    Kenny: confidence, I like to see the fragile and sentimental parts of people.
    Hugues: the religious faith / this has brought nothing but unhappiness and sadness

    9. What is the quality you most like in a man person ?

    Kenny & Hugues: This question is too ancient, we don’t like to think in gender. Either way, if you can make me laugh, we will go a long way!

    10. What is the quality you most like in a woman person?

    Kenny & Hugues: see question above

    11. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

    Kenny: “Hugues, how do you plan to execute this?”
    Hugues: “Kenny, you are bugging me”

    12. Which talent would you most like to have?

    Kenny: I would love to be able to sing, I would help Hugues a lot too when I put on music in the car.
    Hugues: playing piano / it feels very sexy

    13. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

    Kenny: “think it, don’t say it”
    Hugues: being more patient

    14. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

    Kenny: I would say the first piece we created “Cicero”.
    Hugues: the creation of Cobra Studios with the man I love and our first article in Wallpaper magazine.

    15. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

    Kenny: Our dog Brigitte (Hungarian braque). To me she has the best life.
    Hugues: a disco ball

    16. Where would you most like to live?

    Kenny: Umbria, Italy.
    Hugues: in Greece

    17. What is your most treasured possession?

    Kenny: I don’t really have treasure, it’s not a possession but I would say our dog.
    Hugues: objects from my family

    18. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

    Kenny: Not feeling at home somewhere.
    Hugues: feeling lost

    19. What is your favorite occupation?

    Kenny: going to look at prototypes and make the final adjustments.
    Hugues: making compositions with elements I have at home to create new objects and scenograph them.

    20. What is your most marked characteristic?

    Kenny: I would do anything for the people I love.
    Hugues: easily persuaded to go clubbing

    21. What do you most value in your friends?

    Kenny: Loyalty.
    Hugues: they support me / I support them

    22. Who are your favorite writers?

    Kenny: Murakami
    Hugues: Arthur Rimbaut

    23. Who is your hero of fiction?

    Kenny: probably Peter from Family Guy.
    Hugues: Arsène Lupin

    24. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

    Kenny: No idea.
    Hugues: Simone veil

    25. Who are your heroes in real life?

    Kenny: My mom.
    Hugues: no idea

    26. What are your favorite names?

    Kenny: Vivian
    Hugues: Auguste / calisto

    27. What is it that you most dislike?

    Kenny: the smell of cooked salmon
    Hugues: hypocrisy

    28. What is your greatest regret?

    Kenny & Hugues: no regrets for now to be honest.

    29. How would you like to die?

    Kenny: a heart attack due to overexcitement.
    Hugues: from a huge laugh

    30. What is your motto?

    Kenny: Why sleep?
    Hugues: nothing ventured, nothing gained

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