A good way to remember what day of the week it is: have Interior Design Editor in Chief Cindy Allen tell you at 2pm EST when she streams her daily Instagram Live conversation. Thursday Cindy welcomed Boris Gentine of Paris-based Saguez & Partners. He logged on from Brittany, France, where he can hear but not go to the sea.
“Finally, I thought I would have free time, but not so much,” Gentine says with a laugh about spending 10-hour days on Zoom while wanting to tend to his garden outside. “This is a completely new way to work,” says the Frenchman, who longs to talk with his hands and have moments of direct connection with his team. Being in Brittany, however, keeps him and his family calmer and farther out of harm’s way from the coronavirus than they’d be in Paris.
Business, though, is “not good,” Gentine admits with a chuckle. Although they’ve maintained 80 percent of their work, Gentine compares the multidisciplinary firm’s current circumstances to being in a car that’s going too fast and, while it hasn’t crashed into a tree, has had to pump the brakes suddenly. The silver lining in all of this is how much his team has drawn together and is being optimistic and positive, which has fostered a lot of cooperation. “It’s revealing the really good parts of everybody,” Gentine reports. Judging from the Saguez & Partners’ projects Allen shows, such as Huawei’s new HQ for which they were both architects and interior designers, Gentine and his team’s minds are still in innovation mode.
Allen and Gentine talk about one of his projects that was published in Interior Design’s April issue. In an impulse to cherish the citizens of their hometown, Saguez & Partners launched a campaign comprising 11 posters inspired by a variety of graphic-design styles found in Saint-Ouen-sur-Seine, the neighborhood where the office is located. While not much appears to be happening in the district, Gentine recognized that it has much to be proud of, including close proximity to the Seine and one of the country’s best markets. The project has brought Saguez & Partners closer to the community—the workers who helped print and distribute the posters, and the residents who want them in their homes!
“Durable, emotional, and timeless,” is how design should be, according to Gentine. Good design awakens emotions, something Gentine predicts will be heightened post-COVID-19, especially with designers starting to think differently during their quarantine. Looking even farther ahead, Gentine mentions how tuned-in his kids are to current issues during their “coronavaction” and that soon enough both generations will be working together, “bringing out the humanity in all of us” Allen adds.