Natacha & Sacha

Rising Talent - January 2020

Nominated by the director of the Ateliers de Paris, Françoise Seince.
The Paris-based duo Natacha Poutoux and Sacha Hourcade is intent of revolutionizing the world of household electrical appliances and to bring design to fields where it is often ignored. The pair both graduated from ENSCI Les Ateliers and then trained with some of contemporary design’s most iillustrious names—the Bouroullec brothers and Stefan Diez for Natacha, India Mahdavi for Sacha. They founded their own firm in 2017.

Why are you so interested in working on technical products?

Natacha: Nowadays, technical or electrical objects are generally conceived by engineers, whereas we’d like to approach designing them in the same way as you would a chair. We also want to introduce different savoir-faire and materials. At present, companies tend to make everything out of plastic.
Sacha: For example, we’ve created an air humidifier, in which the water container is made of glass. That brings up new questions about its life cycle. What do you do with it afterwards? And do you place it somewhere visible or do you continue to hide it like most other humidifiers today?

In a YouTube video about your Computer Variations project, you said, “We think universal should not mean standard”. What exactly do you mean by that?

Natacha: It was a project in which we tried to rethink the computer. When Apple creates a new model, it tries to come up with something that corresponds to the most people possible. Hence, it’s a really standard product. With Computer Variations, we said to ourselves, let’s try to imagine a computer for each specific profession—the best one possible for an upholsterer, the best one for an accountant… That way, you make the product less standard and instead reply better to the needs of each individual.

You seem to have a fascination with heating. Two of your most striking projects to date are the Briques radiator and the Parterre heated rug.

Natacha: Both projects came about at the same time. It’s just that we came up with two very different solutions to the same problem—how to heat large spaces while at the same time reducing their overall temperature, because heating is one of the main causes of climate change.
Sacha: With Parterre, the aim was to bring heat as close to the body as possible so that it would be local rather than warming the whole room. The project was inspired by Japanese lifestyle, where they heat specific zones rather than a whole room. The rug adopts technology from the car industry, where heated threads are hidden under seats. We decided instead to use them for ornamentation by embroidering them with a CNC machine. As for the radiator, the idea was to introduce a new material—refractory brick. It’s more noble and provides the object with a new status. It’s not something you want to hide anymore, but rather you want to display it, just like you would a chair or a table.

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