When taking inspiration from the ordinary and tran forming it into something jaw dropping and superor dinary, no one designs it better than Younes Duret, the mind behind the Younes Duret Design madness! The French educated, half Moroccan, half French pro uct designer sensation, is turning heads in the design community by transforming banal-oriental into neo-ori ental. Design magazine catches up with the neo-orien talist, according to the Moroccan magazine Maisons du Maroc, to learn about his trade secrets, how he brings the medina home and what’s next for the thirty-some thing design star…
Your designs seem to be modern interpretations of Arab and Islamic designs.How would you describe your style, and where does your inspiration come from? In Arab countries, the people, culture, energy, and the arts are all very strong.I thought it would be interesting to create things that are for Arabs and used by Arabs. Like my Bibliothèque zelli (bookcase); I thought, the dsign should be simple, easy to use, and easy to produce. For me, it’s beyond taking the idea that I’m going to use an Arabic motif and design a product based on this con cept. People know my work as neo-oriental, and I like this idea, because, generally people classify my work as modern-oriental, and I hate that, because oriental can also be modern. So I like the idea of neo-oriental better, because it just means new. But, it’s not the only thing that I do, I can do anything, it’s all about perspective.
When I studied design in Paris, they teach you how to create designs from an occidental point of view, this notion arose after the industrial revolution in Europe and America. However, I always thought about designing from an Arab perspective. Design is really a point of view, and we are engaged in ethnic design when we start designing according to the orient or occident. The orient is my root, my origin, and I use this as my design style. It’s an inspiration to take an Arabic geometric pattern and to design something from an orientalist perspective. the new generation in Morocco is different, they appreciate their uniqueness as a culture and want to bring their own personality and ethnic touch through in their design.
Speaking of the Bibliothèque zelli, it’s absolutely stunning! And very mathematically precise, not a single screw or nail is used to assemble this piece.
Tell me about how you came to create this piece, and also what it felt like when you won an international design award for it? I always wanted to work with geometric patterns.
When you take the star in the center with 5 borders, there can be so many different meanings, and I love the story you can create with the geometric form.So I wanted to take something with this form and make it useful, and easy to produce. I hate doing something just for the sake of style, but I love designing when thinking about many different aspects of the product like easy assemblage and playing with the form.
My Bibliothèque zelli bookcase was classified in an American website as one of the best 10 bookshelves in the world. They said it looks like a snowflake. That’s so interesting because that wasn’t the intention, but it’s open to interpretation. There’s something interesting about designs that have an international appeal.
When you have an award or something, it’s a really great feeling, but my true award is to see people use my products. When you create a product, you are in a virtual world, so to know my product is used by people, this is my award.
In the Arab world, people tend to love most things foreign, especially when it comes to design. And if it’s Italian or French, then for some reason that means it’s even better. Is that true for your experience in Morocco as a designer? It’s definitely true.As soon as it comes down to business, when someone is from France or abroad, the design houses will bring them and promote them, even if their work isn’t that good.Even if it may be less expensive to produce my designs, because I’m in the Arab world, and I have more diplomas then another designer, or have received many more awards, they will always lean in favor towards the non-Arab.
There’s this notion that what is outside is better than what we have inside.But, I think the new generation in Morocco is different, they appreciate their uniqueness as a culture and want to bring their own personality and ethnic touch through in their design. Pimp Souk Collection is, oh, so pimp! What comes first, the product concept or the product name? It’s always the product, I never think about the name. It was for a restaurant.The idea came from all the things that you see in the medina in Marrakech, something you always see is the guy carrying things on his cart.
So I redefined it, I added fancy big wheels, a comfortable sitting area, tacky lights underneath and the end result was this trendy design that’s really pimp. I believe that humor is the best way to give happiness to people.
It’s better to play with humor than to be serious when doing something. There’s a lot of love, humor and passion in my designs, and the link between all my creations, is that they are all about love, fun, humor and passion. I really love your sofa Ransa as I’m an avid reader myself, but I have to say, the sofa doesn’t look particularly comfortable…am I wrong? You have to understand that its 140cm deep, x 180cm x 87cm, so it’s a sofa that’s like a bed, actually, it’s almost the same size as a bed. I wanted to create the illusion that you are floating on your books. Ransa is the name of my Mother, it’s dedicated to her and her love of reading.