words Anna Bates
Big-Game is a young design collective that views the world as a “huge playground” but describes itself as “totally modernist”. The work is inspired by opposition, with the trio citing its design ethos as “confrontation”, offsetting notions of cheap and expensive, old and new, banal and precious.
The group came together in 2004 when Elric Petit (from Belgium), Augustin Scott de Martinville (from France) and Grégoire Jeanmonod (from Switzerland) met at Ecal (Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne). The trio’s work nods to the functionalism of Swiss design, but also demonstrates the kind of witty, conceptual thought common in Belgian design.
Big-Game’s first collection, Heritage in Progress, was a series of objects inspired by bourgeois furniture, launched at Milan’s furniture fair in 2005. Works included a trestle with a baroque style silhouette and a wooden stag head (06) – made out of sheets of wood, both pieces have a graphic, two-dimensional quality.
The group’s second collection, New Rich, added a luxury element to cheap, mass-produced items, with certain parts replaced with gold – a Bic biro has a gold lid and a cheap plastic lighter has a gold button. Likewise in the Pack Sweet Pack collection, the trio reinterprets everyday objects when packaging becomes the template for a furniture series – a steel stool (02) resembles a cardboard box and a handcrafted wool rug (03) looks like a deconstructed box. “We really like packaging,” says Scott de Martinville. “We’re fascinated with the function these objects have, and how they become useful beyond their original purpose.”
Big-Game sees its recent work as moving away from designs that appear “styled”. “We like this way of working, pushing further to make extremely simple-looking objects.” Coat Rack (04), in the Plus is More collection launched at Milan this year, is made from one piece of wood sliced to form two legs and two arms that are bound together for packaging and spring open when it’s unwrapped. For the simple Bold Chair (05), two upholstered steel tubes are bent to form the chair’s legs, back and seat.
Despite the highly functional nature of the collection, an element of playfulness shines through with works such as the Miles rug (01), which comes with three miniature wooden cars and resembles a Scalextric track. The piece was inspired by the swirling movements a child makes when playing with a toy car.
With each designer based in a different country, much of the design process is virtual. “We send lousy drawings to each other through email, which results in some very creative mix-ups,” says Scott de Martinville. “The original idea for the Miles rug was a map of a city. Then we started to discuss how we were going to show roads – there was this big misunderstanding and then it became what it is,” he adds. “By the end, we don’t even remember who had the original idea.”