sauvereign by studio putman

We love it when designers collab together—from Adidas x Gucci to Versace x Fendi’s infamous Fendace line. So, when Schön! heard about a new collaboration with internationally celebrated French design studio Studio Putman and Hong Kong luxury brand SAUVEREIGN (famous for their 24k gold heeled shoes), we had to find out more. 

On a cloudy Paris morning, Schön! was invited into Olivia Putman’s home to sit down with Bertrand Mak (founder and chief creator of SAUVEREIGN) and Olivia Putman (daughter to Andrée Putman, the late legendary French interior designer, and heir to the eponymous Studio) to discuss their collaboration and discover SAUVEREIGN BY STUDIO PUTMAN, a new collection of wearable sculptural ornaments. 

Tell us about SAUVEREIGN BY STUDIO PUTMAN and the vision behind it. How did you both meet? 

Bertrand: When we started this collaboration or started to discuss this collaboration we were right in the midst of covid. So we were not able to meet in person until only a few days ago. 

Oh wow! So can you tell us about the journey of creating this collection? What did the collaboration process look like? There had to be challenges launching a collection that traverses two different disciplines. 

Bertrand: Olivia and I’s biggest challenge was how to contain her because her scale is so large most of the time. And how we could frame it into something that is a small object. One thing that I must concur with Olivia is that there is a tremendous amount of trust and I think the vision and the values were really shared from the very beginning. I really do thank Olivia for her trust because we were not able to meet. I was not able to show her anything in the flesh but she had full confidence in me. Yesterday was actually the first time she was able to touch some of the prototypes. 

Olivia: Yes, but I received the shoes which became my favourite. So I did get to touch something! 

Bertrand: Yesterday was the first time we opened some of the pieces together because they arrived only yesterday. It was a very special moment. Again, Olivia’s reputation and the Putman name…there’s a lot on my side that we have to be mindful of because we must reflect the quality, the reputation and the legacy. No pressure!

One of these freshly-arrived pieces is a magnificent wall mirror, still in its packaging. Gilded in gold leaf and applying verre églomisé, the mirrors are part of SAUVEREIGN’s venture into luxury décor and objects and Putman’s transition from space to objects. There is also a matching compact mirror. We ask where these were made. 

Bertrand: The wall mirror is made in Venice and the compact in Arezzo. We use and source only the best artisans from all over the world. From Italy to Paris to Switzerland to Hong Kong, making this a truly international collaboration. 

Do you think covid consciously affected some of the design visions or process? 

Olivia: I think that covid helped us in the sense that we discovered that finally we don’t have to sit next to each other to develop a new collaboration. We were having weekly meetings on zoom and that was it. It was very interesting because it proved that you don’t need to be next to each other to develop something amazing. It’s also good for the planet and many other reasons. 

Bertrand: One must adapt. We had no choice but to do it over video conferences. But yes, I agree with Olivia in that it changed how we worked. Not just between designers but also craftsmen and in terms of looking at materials. We weren’t able to touch them so more and more we have to rely on reputation and connections and also the immense trust we have to place in one another. That’s what I learnt at least because we were so restricted. And me being based in Hong Kong, there was lockdown everywhere. In the past you could just simply jump on a plane. It was really a wake up call for all of us on how to move forward. 

What do you want people to take away and feel from this collection?

Olivia: The goal is to have fun! Particularly with accessories. 

Bertrand then shows us a series of leather belts that come in 3 coloursall reversible, to suit the wearer’s mood. Bertrand: All of them are double-sided, so you can have loads of colours to play around with.

Olivia: It’s like a Barbie world! 

Bertrand, your practice is renowned for its attention to detail. Was it hard to work with Olivia’s approach of French-chic minimalism? 

Bertrand: It’s always a discovery. Yesterday when we were just chatting in general we discovered some similarities in our designs. For example this dish here which I have never seen before—Bertrand points to a Putman dish made in 2013 that features an abstract sunray designthis is very emblematic of the Putman house and to me, resembles the sun. And if you look at one of our Sauvereign designs, it’s very similar.

Olivia: So you can see, we were meant to meet! 

Any new creative discoveries you have made through the process? 

Olivia: More and more even in interior design you have to think of modularity because more people are now working from home. So you have to think of a place where you can hide away and it always should suit the mood of today. You don’t get a special piece just for one purpose, you can play around, and I love that idea. 

As Olivia is speaking, Bertrand shows us how a gorgeous geometric gold Gem (an homage to Putman’s iconic checkerboard motif) can be seamlessly transitioned from a belt buckle into a brooch with a few deft turns of a small gold screwdriver—something which the wearer can very easily do themselves—which he then fastens onto his lapel. 

Olivia: So you can see, as a brooch or even as a belt with a simple shirt and black trousers, it starts a conversation. It’s an art piece. 

Bertrand: For the shoes, our classics are fixed permanently but legacy gems are customisable.

In a time of fast-fashion and the problems it poses, the art of handcrafting now is more important than ever. Does it feel more liberating or frustrating to work and commit to your handcrafting values and beliefs in this climate? 

Bertrand: We were just talking about the environment. It’s been the hottest subject in the past decade or two and I think as brands and labels we are always trying to sell more. I don’t want to say we are not trying to sell more but in a way it’s like how can we extend the life of an object? So if something is very well made, it can—and should—last you a very long time. So with this modular concept, one could reimagine, retransform the piece that you own in order for it to give you a different look. 

Olivia: Yes and I like the idea of what we’ve created in this collection is a very timeless design. And that finally timeless is eco in the sense that you will never get bored with it and can always play around. The modularity and idea of being timeless and changing your bag was very interesting to me. I love playful design and it’s between high quality and playful and happy. Because even a man can be happy wearing that…look at him with the brooch! Especially if you’re a woman it’s great, you have 3 Gems and you think what mood you’re in. Do I want it on a belt buckle or a bag? I can go from the morning to the evening anywhere and I’ll be dressed up. It’s amazing.

For more information on SAUVEREIGN BY STUDIO PUTMAN visit their website.

words. J. Bibi Cooper

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