Your company Amor Fati was inspired by the work your father did as an artisan upholsterer. Where did you get the idea to create unique pieces from used wood?
Simon: When I was young, I was fascinated with how carefully my father worked on every little detail of his projects. The work of an artisan is truly that of an artist. I think that what lies behind the idea of reusing wood is a love for wood and a passion for creating. Perhaps it’s an occupational hazard: because I am a historian, any representation of the past catches my attention. Wood has a noble character that you want to keep alive.
Guilhem: Wood has always had certain aesthetic qualities for me; I can’t think of any other material that is as noble and as natural as wood. Long before we thought of recycling and reusing wood, in particular wood from old barns, I had a fascination for wood. There’s an inexplicable quality to wood, something that can’t be put into words, which we try to bring to life with our projects. The care and attention to detail that my father put into his work instilled in me the value of excellence, bordering on perfection, that I try to bring to all of my projects, whether they’re in philosophy, literature or furniture making.
Photos credit: Amor Fati
Being in business with your brother must be quite a challenge. What are the main challenges you face working with your brother?
Simon: I would say that our biggest challenge is tempering our enthusiasm. It’s so nice working with someone who’s on the same wavelength in regard to a project. We’ve always been very close, so we don’t have many misunderstandings. We each have our strengths, so dividing up the work happens naturally. Guilhem has better furniture-making skills, and I’m better at project management.
Guilhem: Our challenges? Our challenges don’t stem from working together, it’s quite the opposite! The close connection we’ve always had is the driving force behind Amor Fati. Our skills and abilities fall into place naturally without our having to make too many compromises. I wouldn’t start a business with anyone but my brother!
Simon, you’re currently doing a doctorate in history and, Guilhem, you’re working on a master’s in philosophy. Where do you find the time to practise your craft together?
Simon: That’s a very good question! In fact, I don’t sleep very much! All joking aside, it takes really good time management skills. But we’re a team, so, when I have to concentrate more on my doctorate to meet deadlines, Guilhem takes on more responsibility for the project. But I’m always involved, since there’s always something I can do from my desk. And I must say that Amor Fati brings balance to my life. I’m often caught up in intellectual work, which I enjoy very much, but it’s refreshing to get out and create something with my hands.
Guilhem: You have to know how to manage your time, that’s no secret, and that’s something all students in higher education learn. Manual work provides a certain balance to intellectual work, and it also provides a creative outlet that I need and that I find in philosophy, another subject I’m passionate about. When one of us can’t perform certain tasks, the other one steps up to the plate, and vice versa.
Photos credit: Amor Fati
On your website, you invite people to propose projects. That’s an ingenious and rather audacious idea! Have you received any comical or near-impossible projects?
Simon: We’ve received a number of requests for customized projects. The funniest parts aren’t so much the projects as the questions. For example, people sometimes ask: “How much does a table cost?” We’d like to answer: “Between $300 and $15,000.” People aren’t always very specific, so we have to ask for more details.
Guilhem: Yes, we’ve had some funny requests! The goal is always to create unique and durable products. Since we have the materials and the expertise, it seemed natural to offer them as a service. Also, you must admit that it’s much more interesting to have customized products adapted to their environment, in terms of both size and aesthetics. You could say it’s an alternative to standardization!
Funny requests, yes, we’ve had several, but the funniest one (and very difficult to create) was from a friend who wanted a table with a bench made from a tree trunk and a glass top supported by branches! I gave him an incredulous look and asked if he was serious. He answered, “Yes, like in Lord of the Rings.” Yes, it was definitely funny!
You use recycled materials, giving a second life to items that would otherwise be sent to landfill. Do you have an ecological confession to make? Since nobody’s perfect, how would you like to improve your daily habits in regard to waste reduction?
Simon: I admit that I don’t always know what goes into the recycling bin. I’m never sure if something is recyclable. Also, I’d like to learn more about where the products I buy in stores come from, because being aware of the environment also means being a responsible consumer.
Guilhem: My eco-confession is that I’m not an environmental activist, but being aware of my environment on all levels has always been important to me. I admit that I could improve my daily habits.