Breed – talking to Luc Goidadin of Smythson
Taking on the creative direction of a brand like Smythson must be a daunting task, you would think. This is a company established in 1887, with a store in Sloane Street and four royal warrants. Renowned for their luxury stationery, handbags and briefcases, they remain the place where the great and good go to buy their diaries each year. But, since arriving in 2018, Luc Goidadin has been intent on shaking some of the dust from the heritage brand.
Born in Switzerland, Luc swerved a law degree to come to London and study at Central St Martins. From there, he got a job with Max Mara before embarking on a 15-year stint with Burberry as their Chief Design Officer. When he arrived at Smythson’s, rather than being overwhelmed by their history, he opted to delve into it and rediscover the sense of fun and innovation they’d brought to items alongside elegance and tradition. And that has allowed him to bring the brand a sense of renewal and relevance.
We spoke to Luc to ask him about his artistic influences and what he has planned next for Smythson.
Are you glad you decided against going into law?
I think it’s the legal profession which is glad I switched! I don’t think I have the forensic bent of mind required. Besides, there is no greater privilege than being able to make a career within the creative industries.
Did you always have a feeling that your future lay in design from a young age?
My schoolbook margins were covered in doodles, drawings, and designs of all kinds, so I suppose the clues were there. It just took a while for it to dawn on me that it was a viable option.
Were you a frequent visitor to galleries growing up?
I was. The stunning Fondation Pierre Gianadda in Martigny, Switzerland, was a favourite. It’s Modigliani and Braque retrospectives were hugely impactful to me as a teenager.
Were there particular artists who influenced your own design aesthetic?
I think I’m pretty promiscuous when it comes to artists of influence. I find the act of drawing an inspiration in itself, so I tend to gravitate to the work of artists who can handle a pencil, such as Gormley, Currin and Marlene Dumas.
How would you describe what you do today?
I’m lucky to work with incredibly talented and positive people to create lasting pieces which enhance people’s lives.
What attracted you to working for Smythson?
I love a brand with history, and Smythson has heaps of it. It’s also very much its own thing, unique. It’s amazing how much love and affection customers have for the brand.
What were your ambitions for the brand when you began working with them?
Reinforcing what makes Smythson special, respecting its history while exploring its future.
Have you achieved what you set out to do?
Like most things in life, it’s ongoing!
Where do you look for inspiration today?
We love making function beautiful here at Smythson, so observing how people live, work and play is what inspires us.
How has the last 18 months of lockdowns and uncertainty affected the business?
It has shown how important our home products, games and desk sets were to our customers at a time when the outside world wasn’t so available. It also confirmed that our commitment to delivering a great digital service was more relevant than ever!
What are you planning next for Smythson?
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