Quark continues its encounters! Discover the story of Bruce Ribay, the co-founder of NOMA edition. He tells you about his journey to create this furniture company. He explains to you how eco-design is at the heart of their activity.
Can you introduce yourself in a few words?
I am Bruce Ribay, I am the co-founder of Noma edition with Guillaume Galloy. I am an architect by training. I worked for the luxury sector for twenty years. I was at Louis Vuitton. I met Guillaume there who was an engineer. I was in charge of concepts for the shops. I also founded a consulting firm.
I left my old box to set up Noma with the idea of taking advantage of our expertise, namely, high-end furniture. Guillaume and I try to attach the values that we think are important: responsibility and the ability to create a virtuous circle.
How did you enter the world of furniture and eco-design?
It's something that we had in mind for a long time with Guillaume. We worked a lot on furniture when we were in luxury houses like Louis Vuitton. We wanted to create our furniture brand.
Is Guillaume Galloy a friend from childhood or from work? Why did you decide to join forces to combine luxury and eco-design?
We worked together for several years and became friends. We have had different paths. I left Louis Vuitton to become director of architecture at Céline, in the LVMH group. Then, I founded the consulting firm MADnetwork. I did customer experience consulting for high-end and luxury brands. Guillaume went to Philips. He worked in lighting for almost ten years. I left my company and we started talking about our project again. We created our brand two years ago and launched our first collection in January 2020.
What does NOMA mean and why did you choose this name?
NOMA stands for Noble Materials. It is the contraction of these two words. Today, recycled materials are considered to be the most noble. They should be valued and exploited by everyone. These materials are at the foot of our house and we have to think about how to use them.
Can you describe your creative process and your way of working?
We are like a publishing house, conductors. We do not design and we do not manufacture, we distribute our products and we sell directly. For the creation process, we call on talented and well-known designers. We give them a brief to explain what we want (types of furniture, use, constraints and materials). After that, they are free to offer us whatever they want. We have a role of artistic direction by following a coherence to create collections.
Then, we also work with an expert eco-design consulting firm (Mu), which analyzes the designers' first drawings. Once we have a successful release, we do a product lifecycle analysis. This will allow us to measure all the impacts that our product will have on the environment. Then we will adapt the design to have the least possible impact on our planet. We collaborate with a manufacturer who will give us his technical opinion on the product. 80% of environmental impacts occur during design. The goal is to have as little impact as possible.
How do you go about designing furniture in the circular economy?
The term circular economy can be very broad. The aim is to be able to measure the impact of the furniture, from the extraction of the raw material to the end of the product's life. We identify the life stages of the product that have the greatest impact on the environment. We integrated this notion of circular economy from the outset. However, in a circular economy, we must go as far as reusing the product. We do not control the complete end of life of our products because we do not recover them. However, we try that our products are easily removable. This separates materials and makes our products recyclable. Hence eco-design.
Can you explain your environmental approach? And why did you choose to undertake this eco-design of furniture?
Guillaume and I had already developed these notions in our past lives. At Louis Vuitton, more than fifteen years ago, we were already doing an analysis of the concept store's life cycle. At that time, environmental issues were not at the center of debates in luxury houses. HAS
Today, you can't produce a chair like before. For us, it was obvious that we could not continue like this. Moreover, when we studied the furniture market on the high-end and luxury part, we realized that no one was working on these issues. We are the first on this level of the market to offer an offer where eco-responsibility is at the heart of the approach.
We put design and respect for the environment on the same level. In our view, beauty is a vector of change. We don't buy a table or an object just because it's made from recycled materials, but first and foremost because we like it. If we want to change mentalities in the way of consuming decoration, on our scale, we must offer beautiful objects. This combination of strong designs and responsible materials is important. The recycled material part really corresponds to the visible part of the iceberg.
We try to manufacture in France and not to use chemicals. We ensure that our products are removable so that they can be repaired and recycled at the end of their life. On our site, we find the name of the product and a number corresponding to the percentage of recycled materials it contains.
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And where are your material deposits?
Not all of our deposits come from France. We do not find all our materials there. But, we try to remain European as much as possible. For example we do not find recycled screws or bolts. I did a lot of research on it. So we have to source differently. In the selection of our materials within our material library, we have several different filters that we apply to make a choice. This can for example go through the origin of the material. On the wool armchair, we use virgin wool. We do not use recycled fabric.
We wanted a natural and renewable product. However, we were only offered virgin wool from New Zealand. All the publishers say it's the best wool. We finally found sheep in France and we found a fabric editor who manufactures in France. We are very happy to work with him. To date, no customer has complained about the quality of our fabric. It is therefore necessary to assess the quality and resistance of the material for the furniture. We must also focus on aesthetics, price, and the possibility of transformation. We have several criteria. All our materials are analyzed to know their impact.
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Interview by Clara Didier
Formatting by Coralie Mottu