Animal Instinct

The designers from French brand Ibride create furniture and accessories that rouse emotions and instincts.
Text: Redzman Rahmat
French duo Rachel and Benoît Convers’ first official furniture design was a portable stool that can be used anywhere in the house. The idea of having a stool that is always by your side led to the idea of a side table shaped like a loyal dog. And so began Rachel and Benoît’s “weird connection” between furniture and corresponding animal shapes.
When Ibride was founded in 1995, Rachel and Benoît offered their design services to bigger companies. But after a few months of working with more established brands, the couple decided to release their own collection of furniture. “We needed to be free to follow our intuition and this was the only way to do it. Instead of trying to convince big companies to do what we want, we could just do it for ourselves.”
Now that Rachel and Benoît have started their own design studio, the married couple work together to come up with designs that endeavour to evoke an emotion in its user. Whether it’s a bookshelf shaped like the silhouette of a bear or trays with portraits that reimagine your ancestors as human/animal hybrids, the Ibride collections are statement-making pieces for the home. “We want to create strong relationships between objects and people,” Benoît says. “We like it when a user has a secret connection with one of our designs. It means that we have been successful.”
Ibride, which is ‘hybrid’ in French, creates products that offer something unique to the homeowner. Benoît is completely aware that not everyone will be accepting of the “dark” designs that he and his wife come up with. “People buy furniture like they buy cars: it’s a reflection of their personality, and it’s a statement to other people. They buy a big car, or a big sofa, and it tells people that they are rich. So if someone chooses Ibride furniture, it’s to say ‘I’m different. I love culture and I’m open-minded. I’m ready to follow weird ideas in many different directions.’”
Ibride is available at Fred Lives Here.
Mobilier de Compagnie
The Mobilier de Compagnie collection interprets animals as functional furniture. An elegant ostrich becomes a sideboard, an aloof cat is a coffee table, and a big bear is the inspiration for a large-capacity bookshelf.
The Plateux trays can be used as either a serving tray, or hung on the wall as art. Each tray features a portrait of an imagined animal ancestor. The designers give each animal a pose that represents very distinct characteristics, including a proud panther and a lovelorn zebra.
Faux Semblant
By taking the idea of a Russian Matryoshka doll, combining it with the shape of a Chinese Ming vase, and giving it a useful function, the designers came up with the idea for the Faux Semblant collection. Each melamine vase can be taken apart to reveal a series of plates and bowls. “It’s a fun new way of eating, but in an old shape with old references,” says Benôit.
Q&A with Benoît and Rachel Convers
What trends have you been noticing in the design industry?
We don’t really like to study trends, because we don’t want to be influenced by what’s popular. But recently, we’ve seen animals being a part of furniture design. We’ve been doing that for five years now, so it’s no surprise for us. But maybe it’s time for us to do something different!
What’s the best design advice you’ve received.
Rachel and I met at art school, and one of our teachers was always talking about honesty and legitimacy in design, and that’s something that we still discuss to this day. There are so many objects in the world, and we want our products to have a reason to exist. That’s why when we launch a new product we are honest about the people behind it, the ideas, the product and the price.
Describe your own home.
We live in an old mill in the French countryside, surrounded by ponds, forests and lakes. That’s probably why we’re influenced by nature and animals in our designs! At home, we have many objects that we’ve picked up from different countries, like contemporary furniture and antiques from Asia. Half our life is in this peaceful nature, and the other half is in aeroplanes travelling to big cities. We always end up feeling the need to go home and recharge.