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, socialising and bringing a sense of warmth and vitality to its surroundings. Available in a variety of lacquered wood types and colours, Pastis’s durability and comfort makes it suited to many indoor spaces, from dining rooms and kitchens in private homes to cafés and other public environments.
We had some conversations with Julien in his studio in Brussels to learn about the story behind Pastis.
What was the inspiration behind Pastis Collection?
Julien Renault: I like to imagine a brasserie, a café, with beautiful woodwork and white tablecloths. It’s a rather romantic vision, and I designed this collection with this kind of atmosphere and space in mind – the type of environment where the furniture is patinated, but the design somehow feels eternally contemporary, always in accordance with our time and place.
For many years I have been inspired by a range of sources: Danish design, the Shakers, modern Swiss design, the history of Thonet, etc. I have also been very touched by the imagery of modern architecture, especially the architecture of Christchurch in New Zealand. I like to look at these interiors and analyze the perfect match between the materials, the furniture, and the architecture.
This modernist period, with humble and honest materials, where everything seems natural and full of life, is an inspiring image that I think fits perfectly with the spirit of HAY.
What is the purpose of Pastis?
Julien Renault: Here is a chair that will last, age, and change through patina and good use. A timeless, evergreen product, I hope, with no “expiration date” in its aesthetic and construction.
My challenge was to figure out how to propose not just another chair, but a chair with a strong attitude, in terms of its aesthetic and spirit, and then to suggest an atmosphere in which the chair could thrive and age gracefully.
I believe that every designer dreams of seeing their products still in use in 10, 20, or 30 years. And I hope people will buy Pastis with the intention to use and appreciate it for a long time. With its strong, romantic curves, I hope the collection will bring a lot of depth and spirit to any space it furnishes. Whether used in a home, in a summer house, in a cafe, a brasserie, or in a public space, I hope this chair will contribute to an atmosphere of authenticity and warmth.
Can you describe the atmosphere you wanted to capture when designing Pastis?
Julien Renault: For the design of the table, I was watching a scene from the English series “After Life” in which the main character was having tea, and I glimpsed in the background of the tearoom a classic English side table made of four curved legs.
The gesture of the legs immediately put me in mind of the armrest I was designing for the Pastis Chair! I made a quick sketch so as not to forget the idea and sent it to Rolf the next day. He liked it a lot, and felt it echoed the spirit we were developing with the chair.
Designed during the very first lockdown, Pastis is an ode to something we lost in those days. The cafe, brasserie, terrasse – that’s what we all missed during that time.
I don’t know if it came from a subconscious loneliness in me, but Pastis is clearly a tribute to moments spent with others, communal spaces. When I sent my proposal, I knew this chair had a strong aesthetic that evoked a specific atmosphere, the feeling of eating and drinking around a table with friends and family. Pastis is about playing pétanque, relaxing with aperitifs in summer.