INSPIRED BY NATURE: AN INTERVIEW WITH CO-FOUNDER MONIQUE KELLY.
Revology is an innovative design studio crafting beautiful objects from composite linen and bio-based resins. We are creators of beautiful objects designed for the new generation. Our commitment is not to release one-off products that are already outdated when they reach the market, but to design timeless objects, integrating high level materials and technologies, with beautiful design. Objects that have a soul, tell a story, and that will last for generations.
Who are you and what do you do? I am Co-founder of Revology, which I set up with my husband, Alex Guichard in 2014 in Wanaka, New Zealand with R&D facilities and operations in Europe. We are both very aware of the impact poor choices in materials and throw-away-design is having on our environment and Revology was our way of trying to see how we can do things differently. Alex is more involved in the R&D engineering and marketing, while I concentrate more on the aesthetic design, brand values and social/environment impact.
Where are you from/tell us about your educational/creative background? I am a New Zealand trained lawyer and have worked in international social and employment law for the past 17 years. I also have an MA in Linguistics and BA in French. I have always had a creative bent and channeled this into art until we created Revology. My mother told me when I began University that I needed to do something practical where I could earn money. While this was great advice as the practical does have its place, it was frustrating as I felt that my creativity was boxed up. I can now unleash my creativity with this project. However, having a legal background has its advantages when running a business and essentially this will be key to our success and longevity. Alex is a serial entrepreneur and created his first start-up aged 23 when he invented a plastic bike frame that he sold to Peugeot Cycles. He then founded RocTool in 2000, a composite and plastics processing technology firm, which he listed on the stock market in 2013 in Paris.
What are your creative philosophies /beliefs? Human creativity needs to be channeled into creating objects that make sense on a commercial, social and environmental level. For too long, we have created without thinking about the negative impact our creations engender to the point that we now live in a throwaway culture. Sustainability needs to be at the core of every step of the creative process and the output needs to be circular not linear. Whether it’s an artist painting a mural using non-toxic paints or a designer creating an object that can evolve, be recycled or be composted without leaving any toxic residue. We often talk about Cradle-to-Cradle with the design team and to that we have added Earth-to-Earth for products that are born of the earth and can return to it once they have ceased being useful. The 19th Century can be classified as being the beginning of the Industrial Revolution; the Digital Revolution was begun in the 20th Century. We are at the beginning of the next movement in design and production – the Green Revolution – one that will define this Century. This Revolution has gone past the stage of being an extremist movement and is becoming mainstream as we begin to realize that if we don’t act now, soon we won’t have the choice.
What/ who inspired you to do what you do? We are inspired by nature and by the past. Both Alex and I love fossicking through second hand stores and car boot sales. The treasures we find inspire us to see how we can reinvent and improve it using innovative natural materials. Buying an old Jacob Josef bentwood chair for a Christmas present for Alex a few years ago gave us our first idea for Revology. We thought it was time to change and to do something different with our lives and we had the background, technology and connections to give it a go.
Why do you do what you do? I want to do my part to make sure that my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have a healthy environment to live in.
Tell us about your brand? Revology is an innovative Franco/New Zealand design studio that has set out to showcase the potential of natural sustainable materials and change how we design objects and consume. We are at the intersection of design, technology and sustainibility. The core of Revology is its technology platform: innovative organic materials and breakthrough production methods. Our focus with R&D is on the potential applications of sustainable raw materials sourced from renewable or recyclable sources. We are not limited to a sector, only to the potential of the material we use. The chair – design #1 – is our first creation. The next designs in the pipeline look at how we can apply these materials in other sectors such as urban mobility, travel, family.
Tell us about your projects so far? For the past three years, we have concentrated on the development of design #1. It is a long and technically challenging project as we are making something that has never been made before. This is the first tube made from linen fibre composites. A chair has to be beautiful, light and strong, but we really wanted to bring other additional features. The “touch” experience with real materials that you can feel and patented innovation like an additional lumbar support that the consumer can place in a few seconds or a removable seat easy changeable also by the client are some examples of innovation on design #1. The form we chose to showcase the potential of organic composite materials was inspired by the iconic 19th Century bistrot chair. Composite moulding technology allows us to create forms that are not possible in any other materials. Not one centimeter of the chair is linear, everything is in constant movement. Flax composites are lighter than carbon fibre and are five times stronger than wood. Essentially, we are using a textile with all of the customization potential that can bring with it. It is a fantastic material to use and we have a number of other projects in the pipeline where we will be able to exploit its strengths even further. We are just entering the last stage of the development and will launch commercially in 2018. We are also preparing a significant fund raising with private investors that share our values.
Tell us about some particular highlights of your career so far? Highlight so far would be the recognition that we have received globally for our first creation. There is a strong movement towards sustainability and what we are trying to do seems to have touched a cord with many people we have come across. Being invited to display design #1 in Paris Design Week 2016 and at Venice Design 2017 for seven months was amazing, as was the awards we received from JEC Singapore, Landover Born Awards and Melbourne Design Awards. However, what I love the most is the reaction of people when they see the chair for the first time and then you explain what the chair is made of.
If you could change some things in your industry what would they be?
Banning the use of any material that cannot be repurposed, recycled, reused, reimagined or composted.
Bringing the designer closer to the consumer by cutting out the middlemen, making quality products that are more affordable.
What do you love about the city/ town where you live After living in many places over the years in Canada and Europe, what I love about Wanaka is the tight knit community, positive attitude and buzz of living in one of the planet’s hidden gems. We often joke that when your tag line is “inspired by nature” - there is no better place to be inspired.
View the gallery below and Visit the Website: revology.com