Mathieu Lehanneur is the M&O Designer of the Year 2024

Maison&Objet is delighted to announce that Mathieu Lehanneur’s has been named as “Designer of the Year 2024”.

At each January edition, this award honours a key personality in the international design and decoration landscape. The uniqueness of Mathieu Lehanneur’s universe, together with the globality of his creative approach, makes this French designer a trailblazer for the design and decoration community.

During the January show, Mathieu Lehanneur will have carte blanche to create the scenography for his dedicated space, reflecting his research and career path. He has revealed the name, Outonomy, along with a few other clues.

Rendez-vous from 18 to 22 January 2024 for the rest of the adventure…

A taste for art, science, and gesture.

Since his graduation project, Mathieu Lehanneur has explored several paths. His degree work focused on the design of medicines, seeking to improve patients relationships’ with their illness and treatment. The project came to the attention of the team at MoMA in New York, and was immediately acquired for its permanent collections. Independent by nature, upon leaving college he set up his own studio in 2001, and has collaborated with luxury brands such as Cartier and Veuve Clicquot, developed interiors, and created furniture and decorative objects. In 2015, in parallel to these activities, he was appointed Chief Designer at Huawei.

“Because objects have the power to transform us, because we are body and mind, because what we possess represents us” - Mathieu Lehanneur’s manifesto positions his research in the tangible and the intangible. He works closely with scientists and start-ups, combining design and technology, art and artisanal know-how. He also draws inspiration from nature and history. In 2007, he created the Andrea air purifier in collaboration with Harvard University. In 2018, he asserted his independence by founding the brand that bears his name. Everything that now carries his signature is designed, produced, and sold under his brand. “Whatever I want to do, I can achieve it here“, he says.

During the 2020 pandemic, he created State of the World, a collection of aluminium sculptures showing the historical variations contained in the population pyramids of each country. He has just designed the Olympic and Paralympic Torch for the Paris 2024 Games, and will reveal the Cauldron during the opening ceremony.

And now he has been named as Maison&Objet’s Designer of the Year for the same year.

Profession: magician

The French designer breathes a touch of irrationality into his work, awakening curiosity, provoking emotion, and soliciting wonder. Known worldwide for his works and his talent for combining art, design, science, and technology, the creator, born in 1974, is one of the rare designers of his generation to embrace so many fields of creation. His approach is radically multidisciplinary, ranging from objects to architecture, from artworks to products, and from unique hand-crafted pieces to cutting-edge technological works. Through his eponymous brand, MATHIEU LEHANNEUR produces and distributes his creations worldwide.

An original practice

“I'm a designer who still doesn't know what design is. Or more precisely where it begins and where it ends. I see design as a gray area, a territory without fixed borders. Our brand was built with this in mind. We conceive, design, and fabricate all our pieces. Each piece is developed by our team, and only leaves our workshop after having been carefully checked and packaged in-house. We handle every step of the process, offering a complete experience from the original sketches to the delivery to our clients. Within our Factory in the Paris region, as well as at our Pied-à-Terre in New York to be inaugurated in 2024, where we will receive our clients and present our creations. We are not dealers in furniture or art; we create pieces that people want to buy. It’s very different…”

The Factory

“The Factory is an island of independence, a fortress of ideas and energy. A place for both experimentation and production, this 800-square-meter red brick edifice houses our brand’s entire ecosystem. The Factory is the brand’s headquarters, our workshops, and an exhibition space. It is the physical incarnation of our creative process and our manufacturing and assembly methods. I need to understand, to test, to see and then to start again… I learn everything that I have to know about the rational and technical part of things and then I transform them and push them a little further to project them into the irrational and magical part. The Factory is the workplace I’ve always dreamed of.”

Beyond design

“We offer global design for a global experience. Each new work, each new chandelier or piece of furniture is one note in a larger musical work, or one word in an inspiring story. They are very different, but they come from the same family; it is as if they are connected to one another, in a permanent dialogue. I am inspired by geometries and complex phenomena found in nature. I want my pieces to be living beings that seem to breathe, feel, and continue to grow… I want them to be works of art as well as objects that encourage reflection and meditation.

An integrated production method

“Through its vertically integrated development, MATHIEU LEHANNEUR is a model of organization in the service of creation. Every element is designed at the Factory, every material selected and tested. After being developed and prototyped by the in-house team, the elements are produced in France and several other European countries, in collaboration with about one hundred external specialists. The pieces are finally assembled, finished, and packaged in the Factory before being sent off throughout the world.”

A new entrepreneurial model

“Throughout my journey and my experiences, I have developed the conviction that every creative pillar must be accompanied by another equally essential pillar, which is that of development. One single pillar, no matter how solid, will always remain static, but two pillars can make strides! To build this vision and the road that leads us there, I joined forces with Isabela Rennó Braga, a Brazilian businesswoman who previously worked in numerous fields including finance, marketing, and philanthropy. I handle all the creative, aesthetic, and artistic questions, and she handles the operational and financial questions. We began our collaboration 12 years ago, and the duo functions marvelously. Upon this foundation, together we’re creating a new entrepreneurial model in the field of design. Day after day, we construct the structure, the operational system, and the team that ensures we maintain the pleasure, the freedom, and the longevity we both seek.”

A taste for magic

Poetry is not a stylistic device but rather the best means to combine words or ideas that seem incompatible. In this sense, the poetic approach creates a coherent whole based on multiple notions and fields of knowledge: technical, scientific, or artistic. My poetry is always functional. It is the fruit of complex development. But I prefer the notion of magic rather than poetry. I want our pieces to have a sense of the inexplicable, to provoke an emotion and elicit wonder.”

TEC EDEN, Maison&Objet's 2024 theme

“TECH EDEN is a very inspiring theme. TECH EDEN is an oxymoron that invites us to get back to our roots but through a mastery of the “source code”, by combining nature and technology. The idea is to use the intelligence of nature and that of the human adventure. And to finally forget any hypothetical domination over nature so we can construct the basis for a new collaboration between human beings and their environment.”

An ideal

“My reply needs only a few words: to progressively remove all obstacles between the dream and the means for its realization.”

His project for Maison&Objet

Escape, take off, breathe, live…These are a few actions that effectively sum up the project that I’ll present at Maison&Objet in January 2024. Without saying too much about it for the moment, the project is based on the idea of independence and freedom, far from all the noise and the density. Towards some other place for inventing and reinventing oneself. The project Outonomy is an ecosystem of life, both minimal and optimal. The history of civilization and architecture is punctuated by attempts, solutions, and proposals for an isolated home: the igloo, the cabin, the hut, or the yurt. The challenge here is to combine our needs with current technologies. Far from being nostalgic or an attempt to return to the past, Outonomy aims to respond to the question: what do I really need?