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Publication Date: 2018-09-05

Behind the Design

Moving Design Ahead at Jean de Merry

With its latest collection and its move to a dazzling space in LA's Pacific Design Center, Jean de Merry has cemented its reputation as one of the most design-forward showrooms in the country. Here, Jean de Merry who heads the firm with partner Christian Darnaud-Maroselli, talks about the inspiration behind its new designs, the artistry and handicraft that goes into creating each piece, and the company's ability to stay ahead of—and move beyond—trends.

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Photo: Sam Frost

Jean de Merry's expanded showroom in the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles. The 40-foot high sky-lit ceilings and expansive square footage allow a full presentation of the Jean de Merry collection, as well as numerous pieces by artisans and designers the showroom represents, including Natasha Baradaran, Fisher Weisman, and Jean-Louis Deniot.

The wood and bronze-framed Duna Sofa. With its cerused wood sides, Jean de Merry sees it as representive of a new direction. "We still work in luxury materials," he says, "but now clients are more interested in cerused, or ebony or charcoal finished woods, not lacquer. They want materials that are easier to maintain, but without giving up any of the quaility or luxury we are known for."

The Eaton Sideboard, which is available in oak or walnut, with brass or bronze detailing. "Commodes are still an item where clients will splurge, because they don't use it every day," says de Merry. "Homes today are large, and clients still want statement pieces."

The Api Side Table, available in 14 colors and 3 bronze finishes. "Each piece is made in Los Angeles, and we add about 10 or 12 new pieces to the collection each year," de Merry says. "My favorite part of the process is developing the prototype, and each piece usually takes six to nine months before it goes into production. So when we are done, I really feel like I have given birth."

The Hanna Wall Sconce of handcarved wood fitted with LED bulbs.  "We are seeing more interest in the 1970s, and even '80s," says de Merry. "Design is more eclectic now, and contemporary lighting adds so much to rooms with furniture that might be an amalgam of pieces from the '30s, '50s and the '70s. Design now is not about a fixed era, but about mixed eras."

The walnut-framed Aller Bench by Dylan Farrell. "We have to know trends and address them," says de Merry. "But we are not like a fashion house. People don't change their houses every six months. We need to see the trends, but we also have to be ahead of the market."

The carved wood Buisson Table Lamp comes in 5 colors and a choice or two base finishes. "We are still inspired by 1940s French design," says de Merry, "and we still make classic pieces. But design is no longer about paying obesiance to one period or style."

The Ceara Arm Chair features a wood frame with bronze inlay. "I am not a computer guy," says de Merry. "I love working by hand, creating the prototype, adjusting it, adapting the size, the angle of a leg or back. For us it is always about an emotional repsonse to a design. It's never about money. We like it or we don't. We cannot sell what we don't love."

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