10, avenue des Mimosas - 83530 Agay - France

CROSS INTERVIEW
Franck Vignal (CEO ALCE-CDE) & Olivier Felix Isselin (Designer – CEO Linoxydable)
Interview conducted on January 25, 2024.

To begin, can you tell us how the idea of collaborating together as a designer and industrialist was born?

OFI: It’s very simple, I am a designer, that is to say a designer. My job is not to make the products I create. Being completely independent, I work in collaboration with companies. In the specific case that concerns us, namely the manufacture of stainless steel spas and swimming pools, I had to find a boilermaker capable of creating my creations. CDE is the French leader in the manufacture of storage tanks… It was logical that I would knock on its door.
For water treatment I work with a Norman company: France Ozone. For regulation & water levels with a Var company: Regul’électronique.

FV-CDE: CDE is a boilermaker which has existed for 60 years and which therefore has a long experience in working with steel; When OFI contacted us about its project, all of our employees were immediately excited because it includes strong values for us: know-how, quality and aesthetics.

As a designer awarded prestigious international awards and a leading industrial tank storage company, how do you perceive the added value that everyone can bring to this collaboration?

FV-CDE: The projects that OFI offers us, even if they are very different from what we usually do for difficult markets like chemicals or nuclear power, are no less demanding. The quality of the welds or the surface condition constraints require us to have highly qualified welders work on these projects.

OFI: As a designer, I can bring a unique creative and aesthetic perspective, while the CDE can guarantee technical feasibility and high manufacturing quality. It is this synergy that elevates our creations to the next level.

Langres is an interesting point of convergence and plays a central role in both your personal and professional histories, as a place of origin for one of you and headquarters for the other. How did this connection to Langres influence your decision to collaborate?

OFI: The fact that the CDE is located in Langres gives me great pleasure because I come back there often. I was born there, it is my family cradle and I have always been in love with my city but the geographical layout has absolutely no influence on my choice. When I went to meet Mr. Vignal, I went to see a professional whose company is a leader on the French market in industrial tanks and whose know-how is recognized well beyond the plateau…

FV-CDE: CDE has always been in Langres, more precisely in Saints-Geosmes, and our employees all have a strong attachment to their region. The products we produce are present everywhere in France. We are delighted that OFI asked us and even more so that he is a native of Langres.

Can you explain how this shared heritage influences your work?

FV-CDE: Haute Marne has a long history in metallurgy and many companies present in Haute Marne are internationally recognized.

OFI: Langres is my family cradle, both on my father’s and my mother’s side. I was born there and lived there until I was fifteen. I am very attached to it. Then, my relationship with aesthetics has always been essential and I am convinced that the beauty of the town of Langres and its surroundings have greatly contributed to making me eyeballs.

Are there any specific benefits related to geographic location?

OFI: Yes, without a doubt, Langres is ideally located… It is an important motorway crossroads and it is not for nothing that it was one of the largest strongholds in our country…

Tell us about the challenges you face working together despite your differences in location.

VF-CDE: Many of our clients or projects are based abroad, distance has long no longer been a problem.

OFI: Distance is not a problem. My place of residence does not matter for our collaboration. As long as I have my sketchbooks, a computer, a good internet connection and a phone, I can work anywhere. Even if we can see a certain return and a desire to relocate, our economy is globalized anyway… I just have to come back to Langres from time to time but I don’t see it as a constraint but as a pleasure.

One of your projects was awarded the A’ Design Award, one of the most prestigious distinctions in the world in the field of design! Can you tell us more about the specific project that earned you the A’ Design Award and the creative vision that was recognized with the award? How does it stand out compared to other creations?

OFI: The winning project is Space Oddity, a stainless steel infinity spa. My goal was to complete our spa range with an aesthetic and immediately recognizable product. The idea was to push the boundaries of traditional spa design for a luxurious and timeless experience.

VF-CDE: The OFI project has as its starting point a well-mastered industrial form since it is a form that we know how to program on our production equipment. Manufacturing is made easier while retaining an undeniable innovative and aesthetic character. One of the difficulties lies in the precision of the repeatability of this form which is inserted into a second basin which serves as a base. The whole finding its place in a third pool.

In addition to the A’ Design Award, the designer received the DNA Paris Design Award and the IPDA Japan Design Award, the Grand Prix du Design Paris, a silver IIDA Italy International Design Award, the European Product Design Award and today the FD100 which rewards the 100 object and space designers who promote FRENCH DESIGN internationally. How do these different distinctions complement the impact of the A’ Design Award?

OFI: Obviously, obtaining international awards strengthens our visibility and our legitimacy in France but also in countries that would be difficult for us to reach. This automatically leads to an increase in interest in our spas and swimming pools from potential customers or business partners. Then, from a personal point of view, in addition to being rewarding, these awards bring me notoriety which opens many doors for me around the world: I am contacted by various entities everywhere for other projects , conferences, symposia, etc. It’s exciting and very motivating.

The fields of luxury and industry are often considered different. What sparked your mutual interest in exploring a collaboration between your two respective fields?

FV-CDE: CDE has long responded to demanding markets with high levels of quality. This demanding know-how and the industrial resources at our disposal allow us to meet the expectations of this new market.

OFI: I wanted to create swimming pools and then spas in stainless steel. I therefore had to get closer to a manufacturer capable of carrying out my projects… In the field of boilermaking there are many craftsmen but I thought it was wise to work with an industrialist. The projects are complex and heavy. They require great know-how and above all, I want it to be possible to cope with a large influx of orders while having a high quality of production… and the CDE can perfectly meet these needs .

Collaborations can often be rewarding, but they also present challenges. How did you overcome initial differences to arrive at a common vision for this collaboration?

OFI: Everyone must stay in their own domain. The CDE verifies the feasibility and takes responsibility for the implementation, as for me, I design the object and remain independent. But it’s true we have to agree… We have a very different way of working: I am a creator and I, before collaborating with the CDE, worked with craftsmen… The CDE is a big machine, everything is more structured: the manufacturing processes are precise and it is no longer really possible to make modifications after validation… Then I am very demanding in terms of finishes. Even beyond my own will, excellence is obligatory in the market we are targeting.

FV-CDE: Today, manufacturers are implementing increasingly flexible and responsive procedures provided certain industrial constraints exist: technical and economic feasibility, repeatability, etc. This type of collaboration is always enriching, it requires us to questions and the implementation of new solutions.

Luxury customers are often looking for exclusive and personalized experiences. How does this collaboration allow you to meet specific customer needs in both of your areas?

OFI: We strive to personalize our models and adapt them to the desires of our customers. We know how to adapt to each situation. Every project is unique.

FV-CDE: The industrialization of a product is part of our DNA and the personalization of this same product can be managed in an industrial way. Today many industries are already responding to these new constraints.

Design and engineering sometimes have different priorities, but aligning them is essential to creating successful products. How do your two professions complement each other to achieve balanced solutions?

FV-CDE: We see ourselves rather as complementary activities, one of which cannot exist without the other.

OFI: The designer brings creativity and aesthetics and functionality, while the industrialist ensures technical feasibility and manufacturing. It is this harmony that results in balanced solutions.

Finally, how do you plan to develop this collaboration in the future to strengthen innovation and excellence in your respective products, while continuing to highlight your common “Made in France” identity?

FV-CDE: We are convinced of the viability of the project. The industry has always adapted its resources according to new markets. It is also a way of highlighting and recognizing the know-how of our employees.

OFI: The design of stainless steel spas and industrial storage tanks could find common outlets in other fields, such as architecture or urban projects: Ponds, fountains… public swimming pools, etc.

To conclude, how do you perceive the value of all these international awards: A’ Design Award, European Product Design Award, DNA Paris Design Award, the silver IPDA Japan Design Award, Grand Prix du Design Paris, silver IIDA Italy International Design Award and French Design 100 beyond their honorary aspect, as potential catalysts for fruitful partnerships and significant advances in your respective industries?

OFI: Beyond the fact that it is very pleasant and motivating to have your work recognized, these awards strengthen our positioning in the market and open doors to new opportunities.


Links :

Linoxydable spa : https://linoxydablespa.com/index.php/en/stainless-steel-spa/

ALCE-CDE : https://alce-cde.com/en/


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