F5: Julien Renault Loves Collecting Found Objects, Great Books + More

02.16.24 | By
F5: Julien Renault Loves Collecting Found Objects, Great Books + More

Julien Renault’s design language is built around basic elements, natural colors, and fundamental materials that leave nothing to chance. There’s an obvious appreciation across elements, where the cross-disciplinary designer creates a connection between the details and the whole of a piece. Renault recognizes that these objects are closely related to their environment, which affects the way observers interact with them. In turn, he’s doesn’t shy away from making everyday essentials more beautiful while keeping their functionality at the forefront.

It was during his childhood, spent outside of Paris, that Renault was drawn to craftsmanship and creativity as he worked around the family home with his father. It’s this love for making that led him to the design industry. He attended design schools by the age of 16 in both France (Reims School of Art and Design) and Switzerland (ECAL). The individual cultures and approaches to design lent themselves to Renault’s own way of working: one is artistic, free, and personal, while the other is systemic, objective, and rational. When brought together it’s easy to understand how his style and approach developed and why.

light-skinned man with short brown hair wearing glasses, dark pants, a white shirt, and a black jacket

Julien Renault \\\ Photo: Nicolas Delaroche

“It was during those formative years that I realized this was what I was meant to do,” Renault shares. “The fusion of my early experiences in craftsmanship and my formal education in design laid the foundation for a lifelong journey dedicated to expressing my creativity through meaningful design.”

In 2007, the designer spent six months interning at the renowned Bouroullec studio, who were already well known within the design world. “This opportunity marked my first exposure to product design on a large scale. Instead of returning to my school in Reims, I made the decision to embark on an Erasmus program in Switzerland, seeking a more industrial-focused education,” he says. “While my education in France offered an excellent conceptual basis, I also needed something more real and product driven. I think to this day, my work is marked by both approaches.”

Currently based in Belgium, Renault’s career continues to grow through his individual work and collaborations with brands such as Cruso, Hay, Hem, Kewlox, Massproductions, Mattiazzi, Stattmann, and Nine UK. He’s also proficient in photography and has spent years contributing to the brand development for Alain Bertaud, as well as playing a role in the art direction of an acoustic furniture company. Renault adds: “The experience of melding design and photography has not only enriched my skill set but also broadened my creative horizons.”

Whether it’s a product design, a photo shoot, or an interior space, it always begins with a defining element that carries the concept from start to finish. Renault communicates his ideas in an easy-to-read manner, with the work always exposing itself as exactly what it is.

Today, we’re happy to have Julien Renault join us for Friday Five!

windowsill with small objects

Photo: Julien Renault

1. Found Objects

Like all designers, I have a tendency to collect things. Even if they are not directly related, they’re inspiring things with beautiful colors, beautiful shapes, and a mix of materials. These are just all found objects that I love having on display in my office.

2. Painting Compositions

I love paintings in general, but I specifically like compositions or still lifes that describe interiors or objects, like the work of Nathalie du Pasquier, Le Corbusier, and Roger Raveel. These are superbly graphic paintings of compositions of objects; similar to what I do with photos, except with paint.

wall shelving filled with books

Photo: Julien Renault

3. My Books

There are always books on design, painting, and architecture in my studio, I love to have them at hand to be able to go back to, to research a project. There are very old books that are no longer published, books that are a little more contemporary, books by designers I like – and these are things that feed into every project. There’s never a project that starts without me spending some time looking at what’s been done on the same subject.

interior of a small restaurant with wooden chairs

Photo: Julien Renault

4. Old Classic Chairs

As a designer, I’m always observing no matter where I am, on a trip, in a restaurant, on the street. I especially love objects from old cafés and brasseries. It’s my dream to see, in 20 years’ time, one of my chairs completely worn and weathered and still in use. It’s a nice projection and I hope that the products I design will be found like that in an old café.

cement block and rock stacked in a corner

Photo: Julien Renault

5. Random Everyday Compositions

The everyday observation of ordinary things is very important to me. This was a scene I captured in a restaurant parking lot in Ibiza this summer. It’s the kind of thing nobody’s going to notice, but I think it’s really beautiful. It can be a source of inspiration.



Work by Julien Renault:

cafe tables and dining chairs

Pastis \\\ Photo: Julien Renault

Pastis is a collection of wooden chairs, armchairs, and tables built on authenticity, strength, and high-quality craftsmanship. Balancing a sturdy construction with elegant aesthetics, Pastis offers a versatile series that emanates personality – for enjoying life, dining, socializing, and bringing a sense of warmth and vitality to its surroundings. Available in a variety of lacquered wood types and colors, Pastis’ durability and comfort make it suited to many indoor spaces, from dining rooms and kitchens in private homes to cafés and other public environments.

grey glass carafe and three matching glasses

MILK \\\ Photo: Julien Renault

MILK is a carafe and glasses set that is inspired by the design of a traditional milk bottle. The glasses can be stacked upside-down on top of the carafe to act as a lid and for easy carrying and storage. MILK is available in 4 colors – a neutral clear, grey, a vivid aqua, and yellow. The borosilicate glass is suitable for hot and cold drinks.

wall shelving

INLINE \\\ Photo: Julien Renault

INLINE is a range of coffee tables and shelving defined by the parallel lines of stainless steel legs and frames. The designs are based on bold line drawings, where simple straight lines with tight radii come together to make elegant but strong structures. The legs and frames are made from polished stainless steel and the table tops and shelves are made from solid oak. There are three sizes of coffee table, two sizes of wall-mounted shelving, and a floor-standing shelving unit.

small wooden case

CASSETTA \\\ Photo: Julien Renault

Seemingly nothing more than two wooden planks placed on top of each other, CASSETTA echoes an everyday sight for most people – a pile of books, immediately recognizable. CASSETTA can be used as a small case, a storage for photos, jewelry, glasses, coins, keys… those day-to-day bits lying around. With its universal outline it blends in well with the surrounding interior, to be left on the table as one would leave a couple of books.

Kelly Beall is Director of Branded Content at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based writer and designer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, from Fashion Plates to MoMA and far beyond. When not searching out the visual arts, she's likely sharing her favorite finds with others. Kelly can also be found tracking down new music, teaching herself to play the ukulele, or on the couch with her three pets – Bebe, Rainey, and Remy. Find her @designcrush on social.