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5 MINS WITH… JEAN-BAPTISTE SOULETIE, LA CHANCE

The uber-charming Co-founder of young French design studio La Chance, chats about his ever-changing role within the business, managing designer collaborations, how Milan was the springboard for their brand and the value of industry mentors.



BY Tess Ritchie

July 14th, 2015


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What is the history of the La Chance brand, and your role within it?

I co-founded the company with Louise [Breguet] and we launch at Milan in 2012. She was an architect, and I have a background in business; I actually used to work as a broker.

So at the beginning when we created the brand, on paper I was originally meant to take on more of the administrative role, and Louise was meant to be the more creative one. But in the end, it has started to be the other way around. So I’m doing most of the art-direction, picking the designers and giving them the briefs; I’m managing all of the creative side of La Chance, but I also have a hand in doing the commercial side of things too. Our brand is as much about PR as it is about creativity. Especially when you’re selling the brand and it’s identity and the story around it is as important as the products we sell.

Louise is taking care of “the grown-up” side; production, logistics and manufacturing. It’s been very challenging for her and I. We manufacture in Europe, but then Louise will have to go across to different remote factories, different cultures and its very intensive; she has to meet with such a huge range of people.

I do meet a lot of people as well, for example I’m here in Sydney now; I just recently visited the Living Edge showrooms in Brisbane and Melbourne to train the staff on La Chance. But while I’m here, Louise is in Stockholm for the furniture fair. So we are both very much working to extend our reach beyond France and inner-Europe.

We’re a small company, so we don’t have the luxury of delegating anything to anyone. It’s just us, so we really have a hand in most parts of the business that other directors wouldn’t. It’s actually a good way to function, we get along extremely well.

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Do you have any mentors or icons that your really look up to that impacts on your design work?

Tom Dixon really supported us and pushed us from the beginning, it’s been amazing. When we launched the brand in Milan in 2012, we were meant to have a space in this old military museum with vintage submarines and armory. We were visiting the space before we set up and we saw Tom in one of the corridors and we just pulled him aside and said “hey, this is what we do, we just wanted to quickly show you.” And he was actually really supportive and said “Wow, that’s great! Where’s your space?” and we showed him, and he said, “no, that’s no good, follow me.” And he took us to this big old train station and he said: “What do you think, it’s very French isn’t it?” and we were like: “Yes it is, but it’s probably outside of our budget” and he said, “don’t worry, I’ll look after it, it’s yours.” And that’s how we began to really get noticed and the press started paying attention us and things just exploded.

And in the first week there we also had Marcel Wanders coming to us and saying: “You know what, it’s very strange, because you don’t have any weak pieces – usually there’s one or two.” We also had Sebastian Wrong who was still with Established&Sons at the time say he wished we could have made some of these pieces for them. It was just what we needed; to boost our confidence within the brand and say “hey, we can really do this.”

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La Chance is stocked in Australia exclusively through Living Edge

 


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