In just under a decade, Julie Conrad has really made her mark on the country’s art scene. First with her incredible UNPAPER collection, founding her own design studio, and recently with two standout projects: the LOXO, and being part of the artist collective at the Luxembourg pavilion for the Dubai Expo 2020. She made time in her busy schedule to meet us and discuss several aspects of her work.
How much of a role do ethics and sustainable development play in your specifications?
A major role, just like other values I’ve stuck to for years. It’s vital that my work reflects my ideas and embodies my identity. I’m a vegetarian so it would be hard for me to design the identity of a butcher’s brand. Creating a project always involves several opinions: those of my clients and my team. It’s important that they’re cohesive. So it’s important to address ethical and sustainable development issues before the project so that we have a clear picture early on about the restrictions and liberties we can take.
When I design objects or furniture, I think about every level to find alternative solutions to achieve a result that is as ethical as possible.
These issues often make us think about how we consume material goods. What’s your relationship with objects?
Personally, I wouldn’t say I’m «minimalist» but I am careful about buying quality items to keep them and use them for as long as possible. I prefer to wear all the clothes in my wardrobe rather than for it to be packed with clothes. That said, I have a geeky side so I do a lot of research before I actually buy anything. I try to avoid impulse buying.
You were recently involved in designing Loxo, a premium watch with Swiss mechanism designed in Luxembourg. What drew you to the project?
Georges Weyer brought me in to work alongside Aude Legrand because he’d heard about my work. Collaborating with the French artist proved to be incredibly rewarding and simple. With hindsight, the experience was as beautiful as it was poetic: the idea to translate the notion of time passing not only with classic spinning hands but also through the watch in its entirety. The personal journey was at the heart of it all. We were given a lot of freedom whilst staying true to a central theme.
What is Luxembourg’s place on the world stage in terms of design?
Luxembourg doesn’t have its own identity in design yet, which, in a way, is an asset as it means we can hold onto influences from several countries such as France, Germany or the Netherlands. As for product design, it barely exists in Luxembourg so that gives us free rein too. That said, I think it’s a shame that the country has gone backwards in recent years. Design City, founded by Anna Loporcaro, no longer exists and that’s a real shame as it was a great showcase for the country. What’s even more worrying is that the decision came down to just a handful of people… Obviously, I don’t know all the ins and outs but I do think it’s a huge mistake…
Picture: ©Paulo Lobo