Franco Crea spent much of his childhood observing his parents’ passion for design and creativity - and it certainly left an impression. Today, he creates furniture that’s made to stand the test of time.
Photography: Alex Reinders
Did you grow up knowing you wanted to work in design?
I’ve always been passionate about design and knew I wanted to work in the design industry from a young age. My parents were both creative individuals, my father had a love of timber and decided to learn traditional woodworking methods resulting in him becoming a wood turner and hobbyist. This was what sparked my interest from a very young age. When I was a teenager I was adamant I wanted to work in design. I loved making things with my hands and the idea of being able to control the whole design process.
When did you first come into contact with furniture design?
When I was younger, my father would spend his spare time in this woodshed making furniture for the family home. I spent a lot of time as a child watching him perfect his craft and learning his techniques. I think I would have been around eight years old when I first started to grasp what my father was doing and that this was something I was interested in. I loved how personal furniture design is as well as being able to control the process from start to finish.
Is there a creative aesthetic that ties your work together?
All FrancoCrea designs have a minimalist aesthetic. They are elegant, sophisticated and streamlined. I have always been inspired by the Bauhaus movement and its design elements - its use of line, shape and form, removing all clutter. I try to utilise these techniques in my own work, keeping things simple, letting the materials and craftsmanship talk for themselves.
What’s your design process like?
My design process changes from project to project. However, generally, the design process would begin with a client brief, outlining what they would like to achieve with this piece in a particular environment. Is it a feature piece or something more understated? Once I have a detailed brief, I sketch the piece to develop initial concepts. After refining the initial sketches, I present the client with a 3D model. It’s a very interactive process, where they can interact with the design and make adjustments. Once everyone is happy, we proceed to completing the design. Depending on the project, we might make a prototype first as part of the interaction with the client, experimenting and discovering different possibilities with materials.
Where do you go for inspiration?
For me, inspiration is everywhere. The daily things I see and experience are all sensory trigger points for me, through sight, smell and touch. I believe that things like materials, for example, need to be experienced in order to be fully understood and appreciated.
Has your work evolved throughout the years?
Definitely, you can see in some of my earlier designs I was still really experimenting with different materials, however, I feel like I have now refined my technique, and my understanding of how I want to execute a particular design detail. My designs have always embraced minimalism, but my designs now have more of a purpose and I understand why I gravitate towards this design style.
As a furniture designer, what’s one design element you always return to ?
One design element I always come back to is symmetry. I strive to create clean, uncluttered products. Designing with simplicity is the most challenging thing for me and I sometimes find that I try to make things over complicated. Sometimes I find myself stepping away from a design to take a moment to try and pair things back - less is definitely more.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love that I have my own label and get to design beautiful furniture pieces for people to interact with everyday, whether that be in their home or in different spaces. I love that the pieces I design can be enjoyed and treasured for a lifetime. I also love the high-level of interaction I have with the customer - it’s really important for me to work closely with them to create and customise a piece specifically for their needs.
What are you most looking forward to for the remainder of this year?
I’m really looking forward to releasing a number of new products this year. I will be adding a dining chair and a dining table to the existing collection which I’m really excited about. I also have a couple of collaborations coming up which will be a lot of fun.