A Dialogue of Centuries: A Conversation with Pierre Gonalons

Paris Designer/Decorator Pierre Gonalons’ creates an ode to Fortuny and the organic forms of our patterns, the depths of our colors, and our heritage of design. Read about the centuries of dialogue he celebrates in L’Orangerie at L’Hôtel de Sully during Paris Design Week.

Q: When you were first invited to exhibit at L’Hôtel de Sully for Paris Design Week, where did inspiration find you? How did Fortuny’s fabric help you to realize that vision?

The main room in the Hôtel de Sully’s Orangerie instantly reminded me of the Fortuny museum’s grand salon, one of my absolute favorite places, which I have always dreamed of recreating in a contemporary way. The idea of the exhibition L’Orangerie resides in the invention of a grandiose interior, which creates a dialogue with nature through contemporary decor resonating with the past. The monumental Fortuny fabric hangings are the natural echo of this first inspiration.

“The nature of [Fortuny fabric’s] presence, in fact, makes them the ideal starting point for an out-of-this-world decor imbued with a contemporary approach.”

Q: You have said that your family’s Italian origins have a large influence on your style. Is there a uniquely Italian approach that you bring to your work?

My works set the stage for a vision that is fundamentally detached from contemporary tendencies and which stems solely from my strongest inspirations. Many of these references, be it in art or design, are Italian, from Milan, Venice, or Bologna. I hold dear this gentle form of the constant evolution of shapes and concepts that have run through the past centuries. This perpetual artistic dialogue shared between France and Italy is one of my greatest sources of inspiration.

Courtesy of Pierre Gonalons. Photograph by Stephan Julliard.

Q: Mariano Fortuny is known for creating works that remind us that heritage is a continuous story of creation, a sensibility you also embrace in your designs. How do you represent the future of design while digging through the past?

My process is first and foremost about letting design speak for itself; it’s about allowing the materials and fabrication process to express themselves rather than the creator. There is really no recipe for transforming the past into the future, only reverence and appreciation. One must understand the past and have the desire to transmit it. It’s also a spiritual attitude to leave the energy of a given location to express itself fully while attempting to grasp the type of creative delivery that can be expected in our time and age.

Courtesy of Pierre Gonalons. Photographs by Stephan Julliard.

Q: Fortuny has a wide range of colors; what inspired you in creating your mood board?

I can say that everything could inspire me; life inspires me! My everyday environment, my travels inspire me, as well as the random discoveries I stumble upon.

“There is really no recipe for transforming the past into the future, only reverence and appreciation. One must understand the past and have the desire to transmit it. It’s also a spiritual attitude to leave the energy of a given location to express itself fully while attempting to grasp the type of creative delivery that can be expected in our time and age.”

Courtesy of Pierre Gonalons. Photographs by Stephan Julliard.

Q: Fortuny is known for its timeless beauty. What would you tell a young designer is the secret to working with Fortuny fabric? 

I would say that collaborating with Fortuny is a wonderful experience as it is a way to reconnect with the rich history of decorative patterns, cultures, and colours. If Fortuny fabrics may appear to be destined solely to prestigious historical locations, the nature of their presence in fact makes them the ideal starting point for an out-of-this-world decor imbued with a contemporary approach.

Sample Pierre’s selection from L’Orangerie:

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