An in-depth interview with the Pentawards Designer of the Year 2018 - Sebastien Servaire, the CEO & Creative Director of Servaire & Co.
WHO HAS HAD THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR CAREER?
I would not be the designer I am today without the learnings I took from ENSCI school of design. I come from a very humble background, "design" was never a thing in my surrounding but ever since I was a kid I just loved the visual or tactical emotions of an object, of course, made with a strong sense of aesthetics but this is always a subjective feature! Coming in ENSCI was like a revelation, I felt home the very first day I started there. I just loved trying to solve user insights through experimentation, and seeing all students leading disruptive ideas made me think I found what I wanted to achieve in my life.
Later, I was lucky enough to start my career with incredible designers, like Andrée Putman, whose contribution to French design is obviously outstanding.
But without any hesitation, Ingo Maurer would be my greatest source of influence.
His work of reconciling design and technology through poetic objects always brings a lot of emotion to me, and I guess that I challenge my team every day to find that level of emotion an object can deliver in all the projects we are designing. To that matter, I think that’s the reason why the hourglass of Diptyque is probably my biggest achievement so far.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE KEY CHANGE IN THE PACKAGING LAST YEAR?
I don’t know if this is particularly this year but it is valuable enough for me to say that what I really enjoyed seeing at the last Pentawards ceremony is the recognition of International talents. I think I rarely saw so many designers from Greece, Spain, Sweden, China, Korea being rewarded for their excellent contribution. As a designer, I am amazed to see the design community is fueled with so many great International talents. As a business leader, I like that the World offers us a lot a challenging playground.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR PACKAGING DESIGN IN 2019?
As a designer, I like to make things tangible, and products and packaging will remain the most tangible expressions of brands for consumers. That being said, we need packaging to deliver the strongest experience to bound the relationship with consumers, while being cost-effective and sustainable. There is a lot of room for improvement to make sure that the industry we are working for is meaningful and makes sense. The need for a deeper cooperation between designers, marketers, suppliers and researchers is the cornerstone of future packaging. The waste implied by the use of materials and transport of packaging will always somehow exist, but reduce it to the minimum and making sure that we take the most out of it by better appreciating its intrinsic value and its use as a medium is incredibly important.
WHAT DID YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT THE PENTAWARDS GALA & ADDITIONAL EVENTS IN NEW YORK?
This year was particularly incredible given that the gala took place in Guggenheim Museum, and being able to make a private tour of the Giacometti exhibition was really amazing. Such an iconic place was truly the best environment to host the design community; having Pentawards hosted in different cities every year is very exciting and this year, incredibly meaningful.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE CROWNED DESIGNER OF THE YEAR 2018?
Surprising! I feel proud to be the first French designer awarded this prize, but also very grateful to Jean-Jacques and Brigitte Evrard for their ongoing support since I started my agency.
Antoinette Lemens also delivered a rewarding speech that translated my vision in such an accurate way that I was very touched.
I guess looking back at 22 years when I started my job, and see that I turned the wheels from a designer to a leader of an agency of 50 is even more surprising. The fact that such a great team around me supports my point of view about how we should look at things and help the brands to elaborate their designs is a curious feeling and you have to be low-key and surprised by that every day, otherwise, you need to move on!
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