Six architects and friends founded Ciguë in 2003 with a common passion for finding the authenticity in things, materials, spaces, and situations. Ciguë designs and builds as one continuous process, from concept through prototypes to nished production, going back and forth from the desk to the workshop.
Some of Ciguë’s clients are: Céline, Diane Von Furstenberg, YSL in Dover Street Market London and Tokyo, Aesop, Merci shop in Paris, Damir Doma, Isabel Marant, Krisvanassche, Tomorrow land, Alain Ducasse.
We met Cigüe ‘s team and asked them some questions to better understand how they are changing the experience we have with shops.
Describe for us your design philosophy. What is authenticity important for you?
We are interested in weaving creations into their context. We try to give meaning. Everything should be made for a specific time, place and purpose. We’re eager to understand, in a general way. Instill and/or reveal flavor in things. Materials, processes, stories, people, have key roles for us. That might be how we practice authenticity.
You have designed many shop interiors. What is your particular approach for their design?
Our background is architecture. We attach great importance to the dialogue we set with the brand, on a specific project and on a duration. We need each design to be specific and responding to its context. We cannot fit in the global copy-paste around the world design formula.
In parallel of those bad habits, retail design has always been caught up in fashion trends. In recent years, with the internet and bloggers, new shop designs are seen instantaneously, everywhere. The race for the latest and greatest idea has accelerated out of control. Designers are overwhelmed. They no longer have time to think, research and develop ideas and more than ever, shop design has become aesthetic decoration.
Our approach tries to slow things down and make an authentic design that is solidly anchored in the history of the brand, the physical context of the shop and the needs people that will use the space. We try to break out of the binary ‘buy-sell’ format and work profoundly on the space itself, creating hybrid spots that offer different possible experiences.
How does the design process vary between, for example, a shop interior and an installation?
Those are two very different things. First because of their nature then because of their temporality.
In a retail context, an installation is window dressing and decoration. This is not our job. We work on spaces, functions, atmospheres.
The best way to describe retail shop design is by using an example. For Isabel Marant’s Tokyo store, we chose to push one of our leitmotifs to its limit: stripping back a space to reveal its true nature. We stripped out all of the plaster panelling from a wooden frame Tokyo house leaving nothing but the timber structure and wood panels. The joists and bearers were then added to and modified to accommodate the shop’s technical requirements. It feels like you are walking through the bare bones of the former house.
For commercial projects, are there a specific set of expectations by the client?
All projects and clients have specific expectations. What is interesting is when they are ready to question them to go further. That is how we can create a dialogue and write a real story.
Where do you see Cigüe going in the future? Could you tell us about any upcoming or future projects? Where would you like Cigüe to go?
We like to believe there’s no limits. Crossing disciplines, learning from elsewhere, staying open, makes our job very interesting. We’ll head towards many directions but in a very precise way. We’ll continue to develop tailor made processes, play with scales, push for experiences. And keep it as exciting as it been till today.