Right in the pulsating heart of Rennes, a stone’s throw away from Place de Bretagne at the confluence of La Vilaine and L’Ille rivers, Cap Mail, a Jean Nouvel-designed building on Mail François Mitterrand, hosts Forma Design, a furniture store steeped in excellence, tradition and beauty.
As one of our most prominent dealers in France, we asked the owners, Jeanne Buanic and Etienne Percheron, to share their Walter Knoll experience and how their “liaison” with interior design got started.
How did you first get into interior design and high-end furniture?
Jeanne Buanic: First of all, it was in the family culture, two generations in textiles and antique furniture, then my studies at the Beaux-Arts of Rennes, and then the great encounters during my first professional experiences and my travels across Europe and North America. Giacometti’s exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London was my first revelation. Meeting Andrée Putman was my consecration for high-end design and furniture; she honored me with her presence at the inauguration of my first gallery.
Etienne Percheron: “Le Beau” surrounded me since childhood, which is an opportunity, in my opinion, for personal development, reflection and curiosity. These traits pushed me towards studies in management, and entrepreneurship because I have a thing for new ideas. I love to learn things in-depth, so after various professional experiences in different sectors, high-end furniture captured me together with its constant search for perfection, quality and innovation.
How would you define Walter Knoll and its products/pieces?
Etienne Percheron: Excellence, no compromise between design and function, holistic approach, respect and elegance.
Jeanne Buanic: Perfection, attention to detail, expertise, economic quality of the best high-end solution.
Where do you think Walter Knoll’s design meet Jean Nouvel’s and the building that hosts Forma Design?
Jeanne Buanic: The excellence of the architect’s work and its clean lines make it possible to sublimate the products exhibited through high transparency and a large open space characterized by raw materials.
Etienne Percheron: It is interesting to note a great similarity between your beautiful headquarters in Herrenberg and our showroom, expressed in its complex simplicity: Transparency, raw materials and large space. These two places really emphasize the harmony between the products so that the customers can project themselves into their own interior.
Where do you see Walter Knoll in France in the near and distant future? What about in the area around Rennes?
Etienne Percheron: French culture is intrinsically linked to elegance, attention to detail and sophistication. Walter Knoll embodies these values juxtaposed to German quality; hence, it deserves to be recognized throughout France.
Jeanne Buanic: In such a short time, Forma Design has garnered a more than positive reception allowing us to be absolutely confident about a long-term growth of Walter Knoll and its products at Forma Design and across the region.
Name 3 of your favorite Walter Knoll pieces. What motivated your choices?
Jeanne Buanic: 369 - Sobriety and lightness of its lines without compromising on comfort. Tadeo - Technique, elegance and use of beautiful materials. Gordon 496 - “Passe-partout”, a wide range that suits the French "art de vivre". Whether it’s used to receive friends or to relax on its own.
Etienne Percheron: Difficult to select only 3, the entire collection is complete and balanced, and each project finds its solution through Walter Knoll’s. However, I can give you some personal favorites: The Isanka collection embodies Walter Knoll’s craftsmanship, mastery of materials, and pure, elegant lines. Key Piece Communication Desk has a strong and modern design that meets the requirements of the modern workplace: spaces which inspire innovation and the flow of fresh, new ideas. Grand Suite: The summa of excellence, discreet elegance and, above all, absolute comfort.
Jeanne Buanic: I will add a 4th favorite piece, the Votteler: A classic but efficient and beautiful design of the 50’s.