The Hero’s Journey of Patrick le Quément

What is the best thing that I love about my work?

I love the freedom I enjoy. I love the possibility of accepting or refusing any project. I love to be able to design my life and continue to learn everyday and whats more: to be constantly challenged.

What is my idea of perfect happiness?

To desire nothing beyond what I have, that is happiness. 

What is my greatest fear?

Losing my creative mind and becoming a vegetable.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?

As I believe that the opposite of love is not hate but indifference, I suffer when people show indifference to my work. Im afraid that I am far too emotionally involved in my work.

Which living persons in my profession do i most admire?

There are two: the naval architect Marc Van Peteghem, and the designer and pedagogue Maurille Larivière. Marc is a friend, a sponsor, a highly creative individual, a visionnaire and a co-founder of VPLPdesign. As for Maurille, another friend who has always been one or two steps ahead of his peers in the field of education and particularly so when it comes to the subject of sustainability and the protection of our planet. All three of us have created 6 years ago, in Nice on the French Riviera, an international school named The Sustainable Design School.

What is my greatest extravagance?

Going on holidays too often

On what occasion would I lie?

Whenever I can avoid to demolish the confidence of another person. This has in no way made me more lenient towards accepting mediocrity.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?

As I dislike so intensely repeating myself in my design work, I tend to continuously look for another way, it has to be different or I consider that its not creative, when in many cases the trodden path would amply suffice. Im still working on this one

When and where was I the happiest, in my work?

Ive enjoyed a long career as a designer but mostly as a senior design executive little by little distancing myself from the act of drawing. And so, after all these years Ive returned to the fundamentals, I draw once again and have become an active designer, which does not stop me from involving myself in strategic issues.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

I wish I could retain the physical fitness that I once enjoyed to accompany my inquisitive mind which, to my surprise, has not slowed down. And I wish I could have been as tall as my sons.

What is my greatest achievement in work?

There are two achievements that come to mind, first to have achieved raising the status of designers in the automotive industry. As indeed I was the first designer to report directly to a president and become a member of the board of directors. Secondly, to have managed to enter a new field of design when others at my age, tend to play golf and potter around the house, and become a reasonably successful naval designer

Where would I most like to live?

Ive lived in different countries in Great Britain, Germany and the USA as well as staying on month long assignments in Japan, Brazil and Australia. Today I live the life Ive always wanted to live namely, I reside in both Paris and in our other home which overlooks the bay of Cassis on the Mediterranean coast. Whenever my eyes cease to register the stupendous beauty of the scenery, this tells me its time to move back to Paris.

What is my most treasured possession?

Probably my old French curve or is it my leaky Parker fountain pen?

What is my most marked characteristic?

I cannot start on a new design assignment without asking questions, lots of questions which begin with trying to decipher what are the values of the person/company we are working for? Then, to establish with our new client the 3 or 4 key words that best describe the new product or service we are about do design. I continuously probe to make sure that everyone understands the same things, that there are no misunderstandings. That they all adhere to the keywords that have been chosen. Then, finally I make the clients team express what they dont want to do, and even list the type of headlines they would never like to see written about their new product or service.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?

Le Marais and the Latin quater in Paris but, Ive become more of a loner of late. After the limelight I now seek the silence of a country lane, away from the maddening crowds, just me and my dog.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city?

La Grande Cascade in Paris, but my canteen is based in a small town in the suburb named Marnes-la-Coquette and, as for the restaurant, it is known as « La Tête Noire ».

What books influenced my life and how?

So many, but it all began with the reference book of design history, Nikolaus Pevsners « Pioneers of Modern Design » which gave me a solid base to better understand the historical path that led to what we know today as design. Then of course: « When the Cathedrals were White » by Le Corbusier who has been a beacon in my life, Victor Papaneks « Design for the Real World,» which I read without realising its relevance till 30 years later. I must also mention Henry Dreyfusss « Designing for People » for who else should we design? And finally, Stephen Bayley and Terence Conrans « Intelligence Made Visible » as it is simply brilliant and stimulating.

Who are my favorite writers?

Alexandre Dumas, Albert Camus, John Le Carré, Jack Kerouac, Günter Grass, John Steinbeck, Stephen Bayley, Jean dOrmesson and Yuval Noah Harari, the list could fill a page

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?

I would like to hear Gustav Mahlers Adagietto Symphony n°5 as well as Rod Stewarts splendid song « I am Sailing », one final time

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?

Stephen Dedlus in James Joyces novel « Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man ».

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?

The anonymous who devote part of their lives to others by feeding the hungry and giving a roof to those who roam the streets in the cold.

Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime?

No War and Peace for me, Id rather choose « A Fish Named Wanda » or « The Life of Brian, » for laughter is the antidote to existential pain.

What role plays art in my life and work?

Art is infiltrated right into my bones, into my soul. Art feeds me as it has continuously fed me over the years.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

I have no fans but a lot of friends. As for sponsors, I did have, many years ago, the powerful support of the Ford of Europe design Honcho, Uwe Bahnsen, as well as Bob Lutz, its ultimate product oriented president. Later, I enjoyed the support of two successive Renault presidents, Raymond Lévy who hired me and gave his go-ahead to launch the original Twingo despite its numerous in-house detractors and, Louis Schweitzer with whom I enjoyed an exceptionally productive rapport.

Whom would I like to work with in 2019/2020?

Without hesitation, I will answer that I want to pursue working with my architect friends from VPLPdesign.

Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2019/2020?

I am already blessed by the quality of the people I meet regularly in my new life as a naval designer. I am delighted not to have to rub shoulders with all those arrogant superstars that I could not avoid to meet in my former life as an executive in the automobile industry. Id like to see more of Christophe Chedal-Anglay with whom I collaborated on the design of the Gunboat 68 sail catamaran.

What project, in 2019/2020, am I looking forward to work on?

For sure it will be a project with VPLPdesign and what I particularly like is the fact that I already know that it will be creatively demanding,

Where can you see me or my work in 2019/2020?

Previously I might have said in the street right where you live, there you can see some of the cars for which I have had design responsibility. All in all in my 42 years of automobile design Ive been associated with the production of 60 million vehicles. As for today, I design together with VPLPdesign boats for Lagoon, Excess, Outremer and Gunboat as well as various more or less exotic one-offs. And so, come to the boat shows in France, be it Cannes or La Grande-Motte and I will be there looking at our projects and those from the competition. This year we had no less than 4 boats launched in Cannes.


Patrick just released a new book called ‘Design Between the Lines” You can buy it following this link to Merrell Publishers

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

As I wrote in the epilogue of the book Ive just published « Design Between the Lines », I borrowed from the song of Simon and Garfunkel: « Still Crazy After All These Years » and remarked that I am still just as crazy as ever about life, about the creative process, and also about communicating to others my lifes experience – and that I still believed, now more than ever, when there is a will, there is a way.

Which creative heroes should Peter invite to tell their story?

Zhang Zhang

Pascale Bauer

How can you contact me?

Via Linkedin or mail:

Book by Patrick le Quément: « Design Between the Lines.»


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