Eric Carlson’s multi-award-winning architectural practice Carbondale is based in Paris but he is recognised internationally for his commercial and residential projects which are designed, first and foremost, to be “exceptional”. He is perhaps most widely recognised for his design, both interior and exterior, of the Louis Vuitton located on the Champs-Élysées, one of Paris’s most visited shopping destinations. We talk to him about his influences and the challenges he faces in realising his innovative designs.
Q: How would you describe your signature style?
Re-using existing styles is for those who copy. I am a designer and I create. The luxury of working in “luxury” is that each of our projects is a unique creation customized to each of our Clients. Following styles is for designers and their Clients that want to follow. We choose to lead.
Q: Who are your favourite designers & architects?
My favorite architect, interior designer, and furniture designer is Eero Saarinen, a creative force at all scales, from building to door-knob. This is what I strive for in my work.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
The best part of my work is that there is no repetition. Each Project is different, each Client is different, each location, cultural condition, economic condition, climate is different.
Q: How do the challenges of residential design compare to commercial?
Luxury Residential and Commercial Architecture are both highly demanding types of projects far more involved than for example a typical office tower with it’s lobby, generic repeating office floor plate and exterior skin. Homes have complex programs customized to their residence with places to cuisine, eat, sleep, entertain, bathe, work, etc. A luxury brand flagship store is the most expensive Architecture per square foot because every inch is considered for quality, image and experience.
Q: What inspires you the most in your work?
Definitely it’s the Client that provides the most inspiration for my creativity. I don’t want my projects to recognized as “Eric Carlson” or “CARBONDALE Architecture”, I want them to be customized Architecture that is a reflection of our Client’s, whether they be an individual, family for a house or a brand for a store. Typically the more demanding the Client, the better the project.
Q: Where’s your favourite place in the world to be?
My favorite place would be in the bathtub…really. It’s the only serene moment of my day.
Q: If you had a time machine, what period of design would you like to live in?
I’m good in the present. I’m an avid reader and my books that take me to the past and future.
Q: Can you tell us about a bathroom design project that you’ve worked on?
We just finished a lavatory for the Longchamp flagship store on New Bond Street in London. Inspired by the Longchamp logo of horse and jockey we lined the walls with framed paintings, photographs and etchings of old English fox-hunts and equestrian images. It’s branding, but with a “tongue-in-cheek” satire compatible with English humor.
Q: What would your dream bathroom be like?
My dream bathroom would be full of sunlight for the day and with a fireplace in the bathtub for the evening.
Q: Where in the world have you been where a bathroom design has really stood out, and why?
It was in a South African beach house I visited, where the entry door to the bathroom was via a giant bathtub. Clean feet were obliged.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to architects and designers, what would it be?
Love it or leave it.