Home > Living > People > Rule Book: Patrick Jouin talks about the power of listening and being expressive
Rule Book: Patrick Jouin talks about the power of listening and being expressive

Patrick Jouin is a wunderkind in the global industrial design scene. The 51-year-old designer has over the years, collaborated with leading furniture and home brands like Cassina, Kartell, Alessi and Ligne Roset; as well as in the fine dining scene with the realisation of the most revered Michelin-starred restaurants around the world. That includes the likes of Auberge de I’Ill for Marc Haeberlin, and Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athéné for Alain Ducasse – a project he has been reinterpreting for the fourth time. He also reveals two new Alain Ducasse restaurants in Macau, which will be opening very soon.

Jouin realised his passion for design at a very tender age of 11. It was a visit to Leonardo da Vinci’s last house in Amboise (France) that allowed him to imagine putting different aspects of design, art, innovation and concept together to create something new.

His involvement in the food hospitality was the turning point of his career where he actually designed a plate for Alain Ducasse in 1998. “At that time, I imagined myself drawing only tables and chairs all my life. Then I met someone who gave me the opportunity to do something different from what I was used to,” he remembers.

Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku of Jouin + Manku

Jouin joined forces with Sanjit Manku since 2006 and the design duo has since become a respectable pair in the world of design. Balancing two absolutely contrasting cultures and aesthetics, Jouin Manku has been churning out remarkable interior design projects including the dining spaces in Mandarin Oriental Paris, Van Cleef & Arpels flagship stores as well as the YTL Residence in Kuala Lumpur, completed in 2008.

The YTL residence designed by Jouin Manku studio in 2008.

Jouin also has a very fluid approach to his design practice, which allows him to create dynamic and harmonious relationships with collaborating brands. The Philip Starck protégé has also been named Maison&Objet Designer of the Year in 2003. His success story revolves around being patient and drawing power from the art of listening.

Be Yourself
I didn’t intend to become well-known internationally, even if my older brother was convinced I would.

My biggest no-nos in design are lack of comfort and functionality. It has to be at least as good or at least better than the existing ones.

I look into novelty when it comes to designing something; if it will enrich the design story or if it is flexible for future change.

Never repeat your designs. “The biggest challenge today is the same as the first day and it is to be able to invent something new every time.”

I have an obsession to constantly translating sensuality and technology through my designs.

Jouin Manku studio’s latest exhibition design for Van Cleef & Arpels (Credit: Van Cleef & Arpels)

It is important to constantly surprise ourselves every time through words, drawings and design.

Cultivate the desire to create something new, which eventually will become useful to others.

Designers express themselves with moving technologies and new technologies translate new ideas and aesthetics. There are many ways to be expressive; find that and it will allow you to discover a brand new universe.

Figure out how to incorporate and use a good machine, great skills, a good heart and a great mindset together. Never take any one of these elements for granted.

Personal Life
It is essential to give as much time as possible to your family.

I have always been making breakfast for my wife and two daughters.

Probably not a sporty type, I try to walk as fast as I can because I actually am able to think better when I’m walking.

I practice meditation in a different way; I like to meditate when being surrounded by people.

It’s when you talk to others that better ideas come, even when the ideas don’t necessarily have a connection to the initial conversation.

I don’t have a favourite room in the house but I think the kitchen is where the heart of the house is and it is key to a happy home.

I like wearing blue, all shades of blue – it’s an all-day-all-season colour.

I’m not used to dressing up for a particular occasion as my choices depend on my mood and how I feel at the moment.

I have the exact same style at work as I have at home with my family. It’s very relaxed and understated.

“I like wearing blue, all shades of blue.”

Food & Design
I particularly appreciate Italian food but nothing beats my mother’s heritage food. It’s very French (you know) with butter, added butter and butter again.

When it comes to food, I am okay with everything else except artichokes.

The first thing you do before designing a restaurant is to eat.

It is important to listen carefully to the vision of the chefs, where they want to be and how the food can relate to the interior space.

Everything is related; find the right balance between the essential design ingredients.

With Sanjit, I find the conversations with the chef important to gauge the impression he wants to convey through food.

Restaurant Louis XV by Alain Ducasse in Hotel de Paris, Monte Carlo (Credit: Helene Hilaire)

Try to keep a little bit of the past and add a surprising new element to the story. “Some places or buildings may have evolved over the years, but you never want everything to be erased. You want a bit of permanence, and that’s where we always try to put our effort.”

The interiors of L’Auberge de I’Ill. (Credit: Eric Laignel)

Going Places
My travel essentials include music, proper clothes in case of unexpected events or occasions, as well as my aquarelle case and paper to enjoy some time drawing during my trip.

Being used to travelling allows me to prepare and organise my stuff within minutes.

I’m looking forward to discovering Thailand, especially now with a new project in Bangkok coming up.

Having travelled so much over the past decade, I still am excited and cannot wait to dive into the culture of a new country to discover what it has to offer.

I am currently developing a passion for Japan, especially for Kyoto.

Successful Working Partnership
The secret to a great working partner is when you’ve surpassed the concept of friendship and create a brotherly relationship.

The differences between two cultures (Patrick’s French and Sanjit’s African-born Indian) allow us to see a project with two complementary points of view.

Being creative people, it is important to constantly exchange and express our thoughts and intuitions.

“it is important to constantly exchange and express our thoughts and intuitions.” (Credit: Benoit Linero)

Both Sanjit and I are very good listeners.

Be open with each other – say everything without fear of hurting or embarrassing the other person.

The partnership between the two feels like an infinite possibility to grow. “You never know where it’s going to end – that is what is exciting. With someone else by you, you’re pushed to improve.”

Have trust in each other and put ego aside. There should be no competitive spirit in between the two of us. But this takes time.

(Featured image: Getty Images)

Martin Teo
Martin has a bent for history and food culture, especially of the Peranakan heritage. Since the pandemic, he finds joy in plant parenting and continues to expand his collection of Philodendrons, Anthuriums, and Syngoniums. He's now on a lookout for the elusive Philodendron Florida Beauty to add to his urban garden.
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