Interior and furniture designer Marie Christine Dorner discusses spatial sensibilities, balancing design influences and her creative partnership with Ligne Roset. Olha Romaniuk writes.
With an unmistakable architectonic quality present in her interior and furniture designs, Marie Christine Dorner is a master at combining functional and poetic elements in her multifaceted projects. In her latest project for French furniture company Ligne Roset, Dorner’s keen sense of architectural space, along with her affinity for storytelling and material exploration, shines through, resulting in objects that appeal to the cognitive and physical experience of spatiality at once. Selected pieces from her 2015 and 2016 collections were exhibited at this year’s International Furniture Fair Singapore.
For Dorner, who studied at the École Camondo in Paris where she now lectures, furniture and interior design go hand-in-hand. The designer attributes this perception to Camondo’s teaching approach that integrates interior and furniture design within one curriculum. A constant element throughout her projects, Dorner’s sensitivity to architectural space and the way a human body relates to it translate into insightful visual and physical design solutions in her interior projects and furniture pieces.
“Every time I design a piece of furniture, I feel like I am designing architecture on a smaller scale,” says Dorner. “For me a piece of furniture is a space. It should be seen in its context. And whenever I design a space, I feel that it is a collage of furniture. Of course, with a piece of furniture you are closer to the body than in a space, but a space is close to the body as well. It all has to be designed in a very human scale.”
Dorner, who has lived in metropolitan cities like London, Paris and Tokyo has acquired an intuitive way of balancing her Eastern and Western influences. She realised her penchant for experimenting with different materials during the early phases of her career. For her defining 2004 show, Une Forme/ One Shape, Dorner explored a chosen shape in different materials, based on the notion that design must be seen as an art where the material comes first. The concept was put into production by Ligne Roset some years later with the ONE SHAPE sofa and table produced in white ceramic, black-stained oak and natural oak finishes.
According to Dorner, her long-standing professional relationship with Ligne Roset commenced about 10 years ago, when Michel Roset took note of the designer’s CRASH low table prototype – photos of which Dorner had sent to Ligne Roset two years prior.
In 2015 and 2016, Dorner completed two consistent collections of furniture for Ligne Roset. For both collections, Dorner experimented with various aspects of storytelling and materiality to create collections that represented a small universe and drew inspiration from architectural elements.
“I was trying to use materials to create a small universe, like a small town in a reduced scale,” elaborates Dorner. “ALLITÉRATION, the book shelf, is a good example of this. It attempts to present a bookshelf as a small building in a context of a space – how a bookshelf can emphasise emptiness and presence and give rhythm to a space.”
These days, Dorner is busier than ever. She is working on an upcoming collection for Ligne Roset, as well as projects ranging from private residences to a collaboration with a kitchen brand. Despite the various project typologies and scales, Dorner’s passion for storytelling and material exploration remains a consistent thread in her work.
Dorner has also expressed interest in working with textiles and redesigning hotels. “I always want to tell a story when I design something,” concludes Dorner. “If you buy a piece of furniture, it has to answer your questions. Similarly, with hotel design, it is a very nice typology for a designer, because it gives a great opportunity to tell a story, to create a full universe and make people dream.”