Name: Thibault Van Renne
Company: THIBAULT VAN RENNE
Position within company: HEAD DESIGNER and CEO
. Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
I’ve always been intrigued by fashion and design and how small details can sometimes make a big difference when it comes to the design of an object or fashion/clothes.
My background has nothing to do with design as I studied marketing and philosophy. Yet, my father was a rug importer. Since the age of eight I travelled together with my father to countries like Afghanistan, Iran, India and Nepal to source the most beautiful rugs. At the age of 19 I travelled alone to buy for my father’s business and introduced new ideas so as to boost my father’s business. At the age of 23 I wanted to start my own business, and opened my first store in Ghent, Belgium. Because of my background I have a lot of knowledge about handmade rugs and about selecting the most beautiful pieces. I can distinguish beautiful designs and what will be successful on the market. As I felt there was a lack of truly beautiful designs and couldn’t answer to every customer’s needs, I started creating my own designs.
I mixed those two ideas and started creating designs with a classic inspiration but a very modern execution.
. How would you describe your personal interior design style?
Very minimalistic, modern and European. My walls, kitchen, doors, everything is white, with black elements such as the lighting and the dining table which is in matt black tinted glass with a black chrome base. The colour in my interior comes from my rugs. I have two new rugs now from my latest collection for the dining and sitting area which bring a lot of colour and life to my home.
. Where does your design inspiration come from?
I get my inspiration from fashion, other designs in furniture, decoration, music and ART. Art is my major inspiration. I absolutely love everything surrounding it. I used to study art as one of my majors in university and it has never stopped intriguing me. There are so many forms of art and so many bright ideas nowadays that it really boosts my urge to go back to the designing table. I always have music on when designing as this also inspires me by the mood setting.
. In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
People are looking for authenticity. They don’t want to go over the top, but they like to go back to classics as these offer a strong foundation / give them a firm grasp. The key is to reinvent these classics so they look very contemporary. In my opinion, contemporary design consists of reinventing the classics.
. Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2015 and beyond.
Innovation which enhances the experience
. If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to product design, what would it be?
Never give up your own beliefs and your own style. Stay true to yourself when designing something.
. How important are The International Product Design Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
It is always important to be recognized by others for your hard work. People don’t always know about the hard work that goes into designing something. My designs have such an intricacy that we are having a hard time finding the right weavers to execute them. Every single detail on the rug matters and is important to show the entire design of the rug. I hope the IPDA will show recognition for the intricacy and dedication it takes to not only design but also to produce these rugs. There is no other brand in the world that takes design intricacy and quality obsession this far. Most of the brands want to create something quick with lots of margin, we on the other hand want to create new yet timeless design that will last a lifetime and beyond.
. What projects are you currently working on?
We are focussing on the high end market. Therefore we are currently working on several projects with interior designers for some very large size custom design and coloured rugs in several 5 and 6 star hotels. We are also directly working with a royal family for several rugs in their new home. One of Sotheby’s chairmen is also our client, which is also an important recognition for my work as Sotheby’s are true experts in Art evaluation. With that client I’m currently developing a specific design and coloration.
. What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
Our new catalogue has recently been launched and has been very well received globally. We are about to launch our completely new revamped website which will give a totally new rug experience. It’s been over 1 year in the works. We will launch it once it’s perfect, probably in the month of June.
We are looking to open 1 or 2 new stores worldwide in the very near future. It’s too early to go into detail about it as we are still in the negotiation process.
. Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession?
That would have to be my first sports car I bought after I had saved 5 years for it. It’s an object that I admire every day because of its beauty in design. The sound and experience it offers you is just second to none. For me it’s a piece of art.
Your favourite holiday destination?
I would have to say Miami. It has it all. Many of my friends live there, there is the beach, good food, south American influences, beautiful people, art district, amazing hotels and building architecture…. It’s the total package really, it’s very alive.
Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar?
Boscolo exedra Roma. Fantastic venue overlooking the fountain and majestic/ grand entrance. I once stayed there for a night and I always remembered the grandeur of this hotel.
Restaurant : chotto matte in London. Nikkei cuisine is finally getting the media attention it deserves. People are discovering Peruvian cuisine which is to die for, the mix with Japanese only makes it so much better !
Bar: Internationally I would choose the EDEN beach club in Dubai. Fantastic for a great afternoon. If I had to choose locally it would be the Limonada in Ghent. I have great memories of going there as a student. François serves the best cocktails and continuously tries to innovate.
Your favourite book / film / song?
Book: Cécile by Ish Ait Hamou
Film: Bullhead by Michaël R. Roskam
Song: I like everything by Ryan Leslie, Joe (Thomas), Donell Jones
Your favourite food and drink?
I love Italian, Japanese and Peruvian food. For drinks I like a good glass of Franciacorta which surpasses champagne in many ways, or a good Forest Dry Gin and tonic created by my good friend Jurgen Lijcops.
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon? (in no more than 25 words)
Having a drink/bbq with friends in the sun overviewing the lake nearby my home where waterskiers are showing their latest tricks and skills.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
Singer/artist or something that makes me travel and see places.
Anything else interesting?
I strongly advise people to do only what they love to do. Only then you will achieve the best results. It sounds logical, but many people continue doing something they don’t like and are stuck while it’s all about following your passion and true love.