As the Peugeot global brand design studio, Peugeot Design Lab will be at the centre of the world’s ‘design Mecca’ throughout Milan Design Week. Its installation will be at 32 Via Tortona – the heart of Milan’s old industrial area ‑ in a 750m2 exhibition space arranged over three rooms. The installation has been designed to preserve the industrial ambience of the building as a nod to Peugeot’s engineering heritage, while also providing a suitable setting for an eye-catching and thought-provoking display of objects, sound and light.
The all-new ONYX sofa will form the heart of this display and is intended as a statement in pure form and materials. The three-metre long seat takes its inspiration from the 2012 ONYX trio of superbike, supertrike and supercar.
The ONYX supercar was powered by a 600bhp hybrid powertrain; yet just as memorable was its innovative bodywork made from carbon fibre combined with copper and its cabin of felt and newspaper-derived wood. The ONYX sofa has been designed as a static partner to that and has been built from hand-crafted Volvic volcanic lava stone that is seamlessly joined with hi-tech carbon fibre. It was conceived by Peugeot Design Lab as the perfect demonstration of a made-to-measure furnishing concept.
Seven additional sculptures
Customers of Peugeot Design Lab furniture will be free to choose their object and their materials. Each piece will then be a unique creation, guided by the essence of the raw material. To demonstrate this, the ONYX sofa will be accompanied in Milan by seven sculptures. These will include lamps, shelves, armchairs and tables: designs that explore other alliances of materials, marrying obsidian with concrete, red ferrous jasper and steel, quartz crystal and aluminium, sculpted wood and 3D printing, black palm plus basalt and marsh oak and Corian.
It took 70 days to make this ONYX sofa in carbon fibre and Volvic volcanic rock and the price has been set to reflect that at £113,300 (135,000 €). Prices for other creations will depend on the cost of the materials chosen by each client.
What the experts say on… ONYX
Peugeot styling director Gilles Vidal: "At Milan we are making a link between the ONYX Concept Supercar, a combination of efficiency plus audacious, natural materials, and the ONYX sofa. By using a sharp straight cut in the rock, this contrast in materials is powerful, voluntary and assumed in the way we look at the materials and how they are used. The carbon fibre with its very structured and technical texture has had its shape sculpted precisely to the volcanic stone with its texture and fault lines. While it’s been perfectly adjusted in dimensions and proportions it still follows the natural form and has an acceptance of not being in control of such a powerful natural material as shown by the stone mason’s random chisel marks."
Head of Peugeot Design Lab Cathal Loughnane: "This project was started in May 2013. From the beginning we had a very raw, very powerful sketch. The ONYX sofa is an illustration of a new concept that we intend to explore: unique pieces of furniture that are made to measure to suit the choice, origin and personality of the customer. However, they must always follow a common theme: the union, via a pronounced, clear cut, between hyper-technological materials such as carbon fibre, glass fibre, aluminium and raw and natural materials like rock, wood and stone. In a world where technology changes products very quickly, where people grow tired of things very quickly, we want to offer technological furniture that remains respectful of nature’s materials and the ancestral craftsman’s skills, a balanced marriage between performance and responsibility."
Independent design specialist Pierre Léonforté: "The stone that has been chosen for the Onyx sofa has been around for more than 11,000 years. It has spent thousands of years filtering water and is resistant to freezing and chemical products. Carbon fibre is a material that Peugeot helped pioneer through its competition bicycles from the Eighties. By putting the two together in a sofa, the Peugeot Design Lab has created a 400kg design that is terse, unique, exceptional and hand-made. A powerful monolith, provocative and mysterious, the ONYX, makes its mark as a distillation of the earth from nature, technology and the avant-garde. It is a coupling of materials never tried before, sealed by an oblique cut; the bearer of a strong styling signature and exceptional know-how."
Peugeot Design Lab
Although it was launched in Paris on 12th June 2012, the Peugeot Design Lab was actually created in 2010. The Peugeot Design Lab was conceived to take advantage of a wealth of knowledge and experience that comes from over 200 years of industrial creation and 125 years of automobile manufacturing.
Working as a global brand design studio, its objective is to employ the considerable and wide-ranging expertise and facilities at its disposal. This will enable it to develop strong and coherent brand strategies and identities and design products for external clients from any non-automotive sector.
Currently it comprises 10 designers but it is in the unique position of being able to draw on the skills and experience of 6000 engineers from within PSA Group. It is headed up by Cathal Loughnane, an Irishman who spent 10 years working in interior and concept car designs for the PSA Group.
What the experts say on… Peugeot Design Lab
Peugeot styling director Gilles Vidal: "Peugeot is one of the rare brands in the world able to claim over 200 years of industrial creativity. Since its beginnings, Peugeot has designed and manufactured thousands of objects, whether for domestic and daily use, or to provide mobility: objects for the kitchen, tools, bicycles, motorcycles, cars… All of these are evidence of our multi-faceted industrial know-how and our ability to use new forms to aid function."
Head of Peugeot Design Lab Cathal Loughnane: "Working in the car industry means we have the knowledge of mass production and the knowledge of one-offs with concept cars. Car designers are also trained to absorb the DNA of a company and reproduce that. This places us perfectly to work for companies outside the car industry as well as providing a service of made to order furniture. From a designer’s point of view, working on different things like this can help you discover new things: creatively it brings a lot of flexibility."
The Peugeot Design Lab piano for PLEYEL rings out in Milan
On display for the first time in Italy, the Peugeot Design Lab's revolutionary piano will be demonstrated within the Milan Design Week installation by three pianists and feature a dynamic light show. The result of a collaboration between two 200-year old companies, Peugeot and PLEYEL, the body and soundboard of the piano are made of wood, the lid and leg from carbon fibre. Development took years of research, study and testing in order to meet the objective of retaining the unique high quality PLEYEL sound which is subtle, colourful, powerful in bass and scintillating in treble.
What the experts say on… Peugeot Design Lab piano
Head of Peugeot Design Lab Cathal Loughnane: "This was our first major project. We were looking for something innovative; it had to be something that two companies couldn’t do independently but could do together. The piano was perfect. The architecture of the piano has stayed the same for 300 years. By dropping the internals we’ve made it less imposing in a room. This makes it less imposing and gives it movement. It lets an audience see the pianist at work. And it means the pianist hears the sound of the notes immediately, rather than a reflection of the sound as they would from a traditional piano."
Peugeot design over the years
The Anthology Space within 32 Via Tortona is a reminder of how much Peugeot has made its mark in many domains over two centuries of industrial design and creation.
Mills: It is estimated that tens of millions of mills for grinding salt, pepper and coffee were made in over a century. Since 1840 there have been more than 100 models in wood, steel, iron, Bakelite, wall mounted and electric powered. Taking account of the various sizes and variants, more than 900 different mills have been made by Peugeot Frères. These mills ‑ still made today ‑ are exported throughout the world and remain a benchmark for their durability and the precision of their “Guaranteed for Life” mechanism.
Tools: In 1810 Peugeot made its first tool, a saw blade using high quality laminated steel. The range of tools expanded year by year to include laminated blades, forged tools, cutting tools and agricultural tools. Mechanised and electric tools followed. The nineteenth century toolbox exhibited at Milan is an example of the know-how and the diverse range of tools produced by Peugeot Frères.
P 102B motorcycle: Launched in 1927, it was the last Peugeot with belt drive. Its technical features include a single cylinder two-stroke 170cc engine with a two-speed gearbox. Its maximum speed was 34mph.
Peugimix 1955: Produced in the kitchen equipment department of Peugeot's Audincourt factory, this food mixer was constantly improved over its years in production. Its three models could be used to grind, mix, grate, chop or press fruit for multiple culinary uses.
Aviation: Peugeot took an interest in aviation early on. In 1905, a first 14hp V-twin engine was developed to power the Santos-Dumont No. 14 airship. Four years later, Peugeot Frères committed to manufacturing and selling engines for aeronautical use and, along with Automobiles Rossel from Sochaux, formed the Société des Constructions Aériennes Rossel-Peugeot in November 1909. This company developed the renowned 50hp seven-cylinder radial engine that would be fitted to a Blériot aeroplane. World War One saw the company’s demise and Peugeot, alone, developed a 5.6-litre 200hp V8 engine that would be fitted to a Voisin aeroplane. Research was made into V12 and V16 engines of 550 to 600hp but the financial crisis of 1929 put paid to this adventure.
Find out more about Peugeot's history.