Pernelle Poyet narrows down the creative process to an alphabet of basic principles

Why was it important to develop an aesthetic alphabet?

PERNELLE POYET: It all started with a personal project. I wanted to lend form to ideas that already existed in my mind – to transform them into a set of tools that I could build upon. My goal was to externalize the principles and language of my design process, to convert intangible ideas into objects that I could not only use, but visually communicate to others.

How does Alphabet work exactly?

I owe a lot to French artist Aurélien Froment and his performance piece, Par Ordre d'Apparition. Alphabet is a bit like my own little theatre: the objects are the stars, and I am the director of the show. Alphabet is comprehensive. It displays and categorizes all the elements involved in making an object; it materializes and gives order to the various principles, forms, dimensions, materials and surface finishes that I, as designer and director, use to tell a story.



Alphabet brings design back to basics. What did you learn or take away from this exercise?

That a basic form can express almost everything and anything. It all comes down to application and context. I also realized that I should stop describing this language of forms as a ‘system’. A system implies a rigid or fixed universal method that can be applied to anything, regardless of the circumstances. The aim of Alphabet is to give order to utopia, a condition that is by definition free from fixed principles.

What can a language of forms do for the future of design?

Nothing and everything. Design languages have always existed. Every designer has a language of forms that’s either recurrent, expressed or defined in their work. This vocabulary is part of a much greater dialogue. The final narrative, along with the way in which we use such principles, is a personal exercise; it depends on the designer. So it’s hard to predict to what extent an aesthetic language might affect the future of design.

Is there such a thing as too much design?

Mass production is both a blessing and a curse for design. The overproduction of objects is one effect of a greater economic model, one that is in itself problematic. An abundance of things, however, is what makes the design profession profitable, for it not only allows me as a creative to make a living – and, in so doing, to be part of the surplus – but also forces me to question and position myself among this mass of objects. My goal is to counter these issues with high-quality, engaging products that tell lasting stories.



Photo Lothaire Hucki

This article was featured in:

Frame 112

Frame 112

The August/September issue checks in to the hospitality scene to explore tailor-made hotel concepts for millennial travellers.

Design

Raphaӫl Pluvinage and Marion Pinaffo employ design as an educational tool

Developed in collaboration with Raphaël Pluvinage, Marion Pinaffo’s Papier Machine is a booklet of paper games designed to reveal the inner workings of electronic devices to players of all ages. 

Design

Pernelle Poyet narrows down the creative process to an alphabet of basic principles

Alphabet is a bit like my own little theatre: the objects are the stars, and I am the director of the show. Alphabet is comprehensive.

Liked this article?
We've got more for you

Sign up to our newsletter for weekly updates. Or view the archive.