To Marina Bautier, her biggest challenge as a designer, is to maintain the courage to stand her ground. Both a rationalist and an aesthete at heart, Marina approaches her work with an equal amount of reason and instinct.
Walking into the Bautier store, one somehow feels reassured and impressed at the same time. Reassured by the radiation of clarity and calmness, impressed by the refinement and integrity. There’s a coherence and basic beauty which links everything in the space, from the wooden pull handle on the entrance door to the ceramic on the oak shelves inside, encircled by warm notes of white, grey, green and brown.
Marina didn’t learn to be a functionalist, it comes to her naturally. Brought up in a protestant family and culture, surrounded by rationalist thinkers, Marina also sees herself as a practical and organised being, as opposed to artistic. Up until she was sixteen, she wanted to study science and math, but somehow the childhood woodworking and photography courses had had a serious impact, and she eventually went to the UK at the age of eighteen to follow an art and design foundation course. Since then, furniture design has been her main profession.
Things have to make sense, Marina says, the modernist ‘form follows function’ has always resonated with her. And for her studies in the UK, this was also the main discipline. With time though, Marina has realised how much her personal approach and taste influences her decision making regarding aesthetics and proportions. In college, one particular teacher once challenged the students to let go, to forget about concepts and technical aspects and just follow their senses. Marina remembers this experience as unusual and confronting but also important and encouraging.
In the first years of Bautier, the collection grew naturally by simply adding the most fundamental furniture for the home, a bed, a wardrobe, storage, later came the sofa and tables. Nowadays, new pieces of furniture emerge rather spontaneously. They might occur out of a technical challenge or from the feeling of an atmosphere which Marina would like to offer people. She is continually working with mood boards and images of things she likes, anything from an intriguing interior, to a construction detail, to a certain material, to a photograph with a hearty energy. Her digital ‘Thing’ folder is brimmed with stirring imagery and so is her wall in the studio.
After two decades of designing, Marina starts to realise that her method is very much hers, personal and unique. Her way of combining a strict functionalist approach with a deep understanding of materials and proportions is also a practice of stubbornness and persistence which enables her to focus on the essential, to not invent something new or something that stands out, but to dare create simple and discreet furniture pieces that work, alone and together. Time has helped her gain confidence in what she does. Directly, in the sense that she sees how her customers and followers appreciate what she does.
Durability is a keyword in describing the core value of Bautier. Marina is frequently confronted with questions of how to design and run her furniture business in the most durable way. One important step has been the decision of producing locally, with talented craftsmen and only with materials sourced in Europe. Being deeply involved in all the matters around the furniture production has raised her awareness over the last years. Considerations about logistics, storing and transport are also given a lot of thought.
Bautier, the brand and collection of furniture, is the concrete materialisation of Marina’s design thinking. The initial idea was to grow a collection of basics for the home, functional and simple enough to last not just a lifetime, but several. For as Marina points out, this is the extraordinary advantage of buying good quality furniture, maybe you will not live with that table all your life, but when you replace it, you will pass on the table to someone else and hopefully it will stand the test of time and create joy decades ahead.