Petra has always had her own vision regarding style and design. A philosopher by training, after completing her studies she was overcome with an urge to create something “physically tangible, practical, simple and yet beautiful”. Naive Noir Furniture was born. Combining concepts that “might usually be seen as incompatible like lightness and strength, raw and polished, real and imaginary, natural and urban, naive and noir”.
Petra says: “I would like people to see my furniture as these unexpected paradoxes where the synthesis between presumed binaries can take place and in a small but beautiful way challenge the categories in which we think and see the world.” – certainly, a beautiful, noble and profound ideal to base a business on.
We were lucky enough to have some time to chat with Petra and gain a real insight behind the enigma that is Naive Noir…
So, when exactly did you decide to start your own business? Sometime in 2014 when I was finishing my master’s degree in philosophy.
And what’s your background, how did you get here? Well, I am an Eastern European immigrant from Latvia who moved to Scotland for the weather.
Scotland is certainly famed for its weather… what would you say has been your biggest highlight so far? In terms of achievements in design, probably winning the Bronze Award in Etsy Awards UK & Ireland 2016 in the Home & Living category with my ash wood bike hangers. It was such a huge honour because the winners were chosen from thousands of applications by an expert panel of industry leaders from John Lewis, The Design Trust, The Edited blog and Red magazine. Also, as part of the award my bike hangers were showcased at Tent London during the London Design Festival in September 2016 which was pretty cool and gave me an excuse to visit London for the first time and take couple of days off of my day job (yes, back then I still had a non-design-related day job while aspiring to get rich in the design world or die trying).
Wow, that’s impressive – especially when this was only your side hustle! Next question (and it’s a tricky one), what do you believe makes good design? I think it is at least the ability to balance form with the function of whatever you are designing, whether it is a 3D object, graphics, interface or whatever. If you want to take it to the next level try also contemplating the sociopolitical, historical and philosophical implications of what your design is representing, influencing and affecting. Yeah, basically I think creating a really really good design is really really hard. I myself am only at the very basic stage of designing items that are hopefully quite pretty and quite functional. One day I would like to be able to create design that challenges, you know like a book that makes you exercise your brain cells to reap its fruits and not just passively consume.
As an award-winning designer we think you’re doing pretty well so far. Can you take us behind your design process? Basically I go on Pinterest and get my inspiration levels up and see what’s being done, and during this process my mind starts wandering and throws me some ideas, most of which I scrap but some I keep and then I try to figure out how to make them come to life. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. I have some projects that I have been working on for 2 or so years and I can’t seem to finish them even though I really believe in them. That’s the problem with trying to manipulate materials in new ways: you sometimes just have no idea how to achieve the result you are after or resolve a problem you are stuck with. The truth is that it is just me trying to figure things out on my own as I go along. I don’t know many people who work in design and with the materials that I work with; I did not study art or design, I studied philosophy so I just have myself, Derrida and the internet to rely on.
What are your favourite materials to work with? Wood and concrete. Wood because it is made from nature (trees). Concrete because with it you can create solid brutal structures through a process that resembles cooking – mixing proportioned ingredients into a bowl with a spoon and pouring them in a form.
What inspires you? Caring about something or someone.
Who’s your favourite designer? I don’t really have one, sorry. But I like pretty much anyone who works with concrete.
Any exciting projects in the future? I hope so. This week I have been casting vegetables and fruits in plaster for a new project that I am working on and I am having so much fun with it so far. Having the plaster replicas of these objects will allow me to use them for all sorts of future projects but at the moment I’m planning to make veg and fruit shaped cord organisers, drawer knobs and wall hooks. Also it’s just nice to have some quality time with sprouts and tangerines.
Tangerines yes, sprouts… we’ll have to trust you on that one. Thank you, Petra for taking the time to chat with us, some truly insightful and thought-provoking answers!
You can shop the limited collection on FindDesign.
All images by Naive Noir Furniture