I first ran across Michelle’s unique furniture designs about a year ago while researching an article on shagreen and was absolutely blown away. Michelle Bergeron is a one woman show who’s couture designs are sold under the brand name of Skatemoderne. Michelle’s got an amazing eye for detail and that shows in her work. Her furniture is a combination of impeccable taste, clean lined elegance and eclectic treatments such as shagreen, unexpected pops of color or large inlays of semi precious stones. Her work has been featured in numerous glossies, including Architectural Digest… not too shabby.
Tell me a little about yourself and how you can to be a designer.
I have been working as an interior designer for the past 14 years working private clients in New York and L.A. and presently a design consultant for The One Group. I actually started my career as ready-to-wear designer and sold my collection to high-end retailers as Neiman Marcus, Barneys, Bloomingdale’s, and Henri Bendel.
About two years ago I launched my own eco-friendly furniture collection SKATEMODERNE.
I know you have a background in fashion design so obviously design has always been a huge part of your life. But how did you go from the free flowing movement of fabric to the structured world of furniture?
I guess as I started to get older, I began to realize that I wanted to make more of a permanent design impact on people’s lives by designing their surroundings, more than what they wear on a day to day basis. Where we choose to call home or spend our days has such a huge impact on how well we feel, our stress levels and basically our peace of mind. I love being able to make people love where they live, or shop or work.
As a little girl I was totally fascinated with rocks. Even the most basic garden variety type could (and still can) spellbind me with their texture and color variations, so I can certainly understand why you would want to incorporate stones into your designs. Of course, your stones are semi-precious which only ups the allure. What was the genesis of your original designs and how did that evolve into what you’re doing today?
I love this question! Suffice it to say, we would have been best friends as children! I had a rock tumbler by the time I was 6 and I have “rock-hounded” all over the United States. I actually am just waiting until my kids get a bit older to start them on my rock obsession as well. Rocks to me are jewelry, they dress up any room and I will always use them in whatever form of design I do.
I pulled my inspiration for SKATEMODERNE from my experience as an interior designer and from time spent traveling abroad to Europe and Asia. I have always loved mid-century silhouettes mixed with rose and ebony woods, organic materials, semi-precious stones, steel and Lucite. All of my designs are one-of-a-kind pieces are French Polished, colored by hand, and made to order. I decided to use precious stones in my collection since it feels like the finishing touch to the look.
Your faux shagreen cabinets and wall panels make me swoon – tell me a little bit about how they’re made (for instance, are they all done by hand or machine?
SKATEMODERNE’s signature look is created from a unique “couture shagreen” proprietary technology that imitates real stingray skins flawlessly, but is infinitely more durable and can be made in any color, design or pattern. It is a secret! Shhhh
What inspires your designs? Do you have anything new in the works?
I am of French and Japanese descent so I would have to credit both sides of my family for giving me such a broad sense of what is considered beautiful and inspirational to me- they could not be more different but beautiful at the same time. Most of my inspiration comes from my travels and in every day life.
I have a new line of Lucite and shagreen furniture in the works. The mirrored Lucite and shagreen bar cart was such a huge success that I am taking it one step further this season.
I’m always fascinated with an artist’s design process… if I were a pen in your pot, what would I see? In other words, walk me through your design process from inspiration to prototype.
The feather that runs across my amethyst sideboard was a rug that was in the dining room of a friend’s house in London and the dragonfly motif on the wall panels came from one hovering around me in the Bahamas last winter!
I am inspired all the time. I shoot photos with my Iphone everyday. When I have a quiet moment I sit and download them and let the process begin.
Are there any design tools you just can’t live without? These could be anything from a favorite app to your favorite brand of marker and paper.
1ST dibs has such an incredibly curated collection of beautiful pieces. I go the their site weekly to see what is going on in the best galleries and shops from here to LA to Paris without having to go through customs!
My camera is what I use to capture inspiration in its rarest form. I am addicted to MOLESKINE notebooks. I use a different one for each project. Suffice it to say I have 100!
If you weren’t a designer what would you be?
That is the biggest problem and biggest gift I have. I am always a designer. It never leaves me. I walk into a friend’s house or store and in my mind, I have arranged the place completely differently. I have learned through some pretty uncomfortable conversations to keep my “designer” mouth shut!
And of course, I would continue to be the great mother I am to my two beautiful children.
What’s your favorite design motif right now?
The Chevron. It is actually a V-shaped badge worn on the sleeve of a uniform indicating rank. OBSESSED.
What is the best business advice you ever received and do you have any advice for designers just starting out?
Do what you love and never, ever give up!
If you’d like to see more of Michelle’s work then be sure to check out her website Skatemoderne.
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