“These days everything has to not only be photogenic, but media-genic.” As one of Japan’s most dynamic creatives, French born Gwenael Nicolas and his studio Curiosity has created some of the most talked about and digitally shared designs in the world today. When Fendi unveiled its jawdropping spiked display wall designed by Nicolas and his team, people could not share it fast enough on social media.
In an age where digital is so important, Nicolas has recognised that when creating designs he has to not only be conscious of how people will react to it and experience it in real life, but also consider how it will translate in a digital medium. What will it look like on camera? Will it be representative of the brand?
After moving to Japan over 20 years ago to pursue a career in design, Nicolas quickly made a name for himself with his boundary-pushing creations. The Japanese creative industry is very different to that of Australia. Rather than specialise, designers are open to making anything. Creations by Nicolas and his team range from high end store interiors, furniture, perfume and beauty packaging. Nicolas even talks about how when he first moved to Japan he was asked to design a Japanese Buddist Temple despite never having any experience with such a product before.
One of Nicolas’ latest projects saw him develop his own custom fragrance entitled Curiosity, designed around the concept of ‘eternity exists in each and every moment.’ As has become his trademark, Nicolas didn’t just take a conservative approach when designing the bottle for his scent. Inspired by the fragility of a drop of water, Nicolas approached the top glass blower in Japan to design the breathtaking bottle. “A perfume is a trace of memory that stretches our senses to recreate an image of personal awareness”, says Nicolas. The scent was created to unravel like a journey, with the fragrance reminiscent of a walk through a garden towards a tea house, with essence of hinoki, fresh leaves, bergamot, tea, cinnamon and sandalwood carry drawing the mind towards serenity.
Far from being trend driven like so many of his peers, Nicolas is all about pushing the envelope. “You have to define your own code and visions”, he says. “Go beyond what people will expect, but maintain a sense of familiarity so as not to alienate people. If you tell me you are going to design something new which will be trendy in 6 months you will already too late. You cannot base your design on what information you have around you. The dynamic of creation and the general dynamic of trend is totally different.”
Nicolas and his team are all about redefining new design identities, creating new products and changing the way we look at the world. “If you make something a little interesting people will start to make comments about it”, says Nicolas. “If you make something really interesting they say why not. But you make something really insane, everybody will stop and say yeah, let’s have a look.”