Exclusive Interview With International Designer and Entrepreneur Cecilia Dupire
Cecilia Dupire has had an amazing career and an amazing life in general.
An interior architect and designer originally from Sweden, she is also the co-designer of the interactive furniture brand Zig by Cezign and Principal of Cezign. She is currently at work on two homes in the Hamptons, and a large building in Paris consisting of seven apartments and two boutiques.
Graduating Enskilda Gymnasiet in Stockholm with an art major, Dupire spent a year in Vienna at the Goethe Institute, and attended the American College in London, where she received her degree in interior design. During her studies, she was privileged to work with Michael Philip Wolfson, Zaha Hadid's Senior Designer, for many years and the Pritzker Winning Architect's principal Design Consultant.
She then moved back to Sweden to be with her ill brother (who lost his lifelong battle with leukemia at the age of 30). At this time she worked for Rupert Gardner Design (one of the most fashionable architecture offices in Sweden at the time), focused on various big commercial projects all over Sweden and Scandinavia.
Dupire eventually went to London and worked on some large institutional designs before meeting her husband, Bruno Dupire, and having her daughter. The couple bought a house in the medieval village of Haut de Cagnes on the French Riviera. Restoring it became her next major project. It was in the South of France that she started using different craftsmanship in order to gain a better understanding for each of them. She also attended restoration work, gravure and pottery courses to improve her artistic skills, even taking part in two gravure exhibitions at Maison des Artist in Haute de Cagnes.
The family, now with a son in tow, moved to New York. After working on many different projects there, she was one of the few designers Swarovski invited to have access to their "Crystal Library" and prepare lamp installations. After returning to Sweden for eight months to take care of her dying brother, she worked on a Southhampton house and then a landmark building in Harlem. But she was far frome done.
"When this work was completed I decided to launch a furniture line in collaboration with Costas Picadas, resulting in Zig."
This interactive furniture collection has been written about around the world, and continues to evolve into the residential and commercial markets. While working in Southhampton, she also volunteered several times a week at Memorial Sloan Kettering cancer Hospital, doing art therapy.
She next has plans for an interactive creativity camp during the summer in the Hamptons; she is also designing renderings for an eco-mobile home for disaster-stricken areas, which will be based off her concept of interactive design and furniture.
We were lucky enough to interview this diverse designer about her amazing career.
Growing up, did you see yourself going into design or architecture?
During my childhood I always shifted things around in my room and I loved to walk around outside during the pitch-dark winter evenings looking into people's lit up houses and imagining how it would look inside. I always had a fascination with color and have, all my life, liked to paint.
What was it like to go from working on big financial institutions to restoring your house in the French Riviera? What was challenging about that project?
Working on larger financial institutions, the movement, function and quickness of execution of the project is of greatest importance and it's normally comprised of large areas of workspace with the same layout and some areas of more detail such as reception and representative areas.
Restoring an ancient house composed and extended with time by randomness and need was a project that needed reflection and knowledge of the past both in design and material use. I loved the possibility it gave to work closely to all aspects of a project's evolution and to learn and apply ancient restoration techniques. It gave me a great opportunity to learn each craftsmanship, the time and possibilities they all give.
What are you inspired by when you are designing?
The function and flexibility of the space. The way it communicates with the outside world and with the individuals in it. To create a base that will work through the evolution of time.
Can you describe what it was like to take part in the ICFF in New York? Tell us about working with plexiglass and crystal?
It involves an immense amount of work and focus. I love to produce things myself as I create. (The idea of the material, the play, the non-verbal talk in the evolution process is something utterly wonderful) It is also great to gather different people one works with to get the best possible product out on the market in the shortest time possible. It is thrilling and frightening at the same time to expose your designs, being such a small company compared to the very big international ones.
What was the coolest thing about having access to the Crystal Library?
Being able to see and use crystals that are otherwise not out on the open market.
Do you prefer doing the more outlandish projects or the renovations and redesigns of homes? Or do you like them both?
I am combining the two for my current projects so that I can work both with volume and space while at the same time work with details and furniture design.
You give so much back through your charity work. How do you balance having this stunning career and also giving back to the world?
I think that charity work can bear fruits of great importance. It helps us to stay grounded. Listen and give time to others, it helps us to grow more mature, to discover emotions and resources we were not aware of; all essential in both our everyday work and personal life. It brings me the greatest inspiration and focus.
What is your next big project?
A building in Paris' 3rd district that will be turned into several flats and two boutiques and two houses in the Hamptons.