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You know these products for sure. Flashy, a bit crazy and yet totally effective, they range from kitchen accessories to handbag mirrors. Their sign of recognition is visible to the naked eye: they put in a good mood, are playful. A word that appeals to Jacques Guillemet, founder with his wife Léa of the Pylones brand and a great lover of these little things that color life. Meeting in one of the offices of this globe trotter.
Jacques and Léna Guillemet started their business on Labor Day, in 1985. It's hard to forget a date like this, especially when you start working. Their idea was as simple as it was original: to have a shop that would only offer items to please. But beware, not an ordinary gift shop, where you would come to consult a wedding list. No, what they imagined was a place where you would want everything, whether to give someone a present or spoil yourself. In the couple, Léna is passionate about production, "doing" with what and how. As for Jacques, he is commercial genius. Coming from the flea market, neither had the expertise to realize their dream. But they were young, enthusiastic, clever and well surrounded by a group of friends rather gifted in design. By taking an interest in latex, they fell right on trend. Some may remember their bracelets in this material and which were all the rage at the time. Jacques still has a few, collectors. Designed by a shocking trio including Catherine Lévy and Ségolène Prébois (who will create Tsé-Tsé Associées), this very comic, funny, unusual jewel was an immediate success.
What counts is good humor
"We wanted popular and accessible products, explains Jacques. And we continued on this momentum. Today we are sold internationally, but our concept is like a universal language. In Paris or at the other end of the world , the reactions are identical. What is more important is the good humor that triggers the desire to buy. "If the universal is one of the concerns of the designers of Pylones, we must add to it the collective memory and the tradition . "I have traveled a lot and finally I find that we are quite close to each other. The objects have common origins. People made them for their daily use and whatever their culture, they were inspired by nature "To illustrate, Jacques Guillemet tells the story of bathing salad servers of Pylones which, by extrapolating, are not so far from the ancient Egyptian kohl spoons. This brand bestseller was followed by another. The three pasta spoons , looking like 3D versions for cartoons. They were inspired by the Three Graces of Cranach, following an exhibition in which Pylones was a partner. All the more reason to transform them into fetish objects.
Objects tell a story
Crazy about objects, Jacques Guillemet is a collector without being one. His treasures are not unobtainable, overpriced. They are mostly unusual pieces, found by chance and which he liked because poetic, even in poor condition. These rooms mistreated by life or by their previous owners, he sees them "beautiful". It doesn't matter if they are dented, repaired, they tell him a story, unless he is the one who invented it. "I have a certain amount, he admits. One of my favorites is this broken man. A piece is missing, but I like it because it evokes balance for me. The arms are like a kind of pendulum and it holds! "
A junk on his desk
Among his other finds, there is this little robot , nodding his head when his battery is recharged with solar energy. And in the same vein, but more recent, this other in white plastic, unearthed in Japan. "I found it in the garage of an old lady who was selling, like our garage sales, what she no longer wanted. I looked at it for a long time and it was so funny that I took it out my cellphone and I filmed it. And then when I left, she caught up with me and offered it to me. " He came to join the odds and ends in his office. Some might call it gimmicks, not him. Proof that you can keep a child's eyes and manage a family business with more than 700 employees.
Between the ant and the cicada
Since the creation of Pylones, Jacques Guillemet has taken care to keep at least one copy of each object designed and manufactured by his company. They are visible to everyone, in large display cabinets. Very attentive to its "offspring", that of yesterday makes it possible to tell the evolution of the company to new employees as well as to distributors. A way to make people understand the house spirit and to unite. Everyone is aware, for example, that the colored barrels, which are used today to display products in shops, originally contained the latex used for the first objects. In his offices, they are there too. On one of them stands the Lopy , little characters between the ant and the cicada, made by Jean Bourdier. These are the Pylones mascots. A mix between work and fantasy. It reminds us of something, and next year it will be 30 years.