During the Milan Design Week, we made a little detour to see prop stylist and set designer , who lives in a 60s apartment...
The gram is about a well-known unit of measurement, and figures more or less meaningful. But Le Gramme is also jewels. The first goal of the brand was to create timeless essentials you choose according to their weights. Every basic is unique, reduced to a fluctuating simplicity. Their multiple references come from the work of craftspeople in Ardèche and Doubs (French regions). As for Adrien Messié and Erwan Le Louër, they sublimate the jewels on the website of the brand. When these two men in love with beautiful things started the concept, they both took the best of their respective careers and professional lives – seven years working with Andrée Putman for one of them, the creation of the jewellery brand JEM for the other one – in order to create such a particular range. A range for the culture of objects and materials and the sense of detail and simplicity. Bracelets, rings and cuff bracelets: they work on everything. It attracted very selective brands and urban aesthetes who love the well-thought difference. In this field, Adrien is a master. Piling the simplicity up, this was a good idea.
Adrien, what is your story?
I was born in Villeurbanne in 1980, I studied in a business school and specialised in the luxury business. I have worked with Andrée Putman for seven years, a period I lived as a chance, since it enabled me to learn about the culture of objects and materials and the sense of simplicity and detail. In 2012, I co-founded the brand : my appeal to aesthetics has naturally led me to manage the creation. I’m also in charge of communication. In parallel, I also co-founded H A Ï K U, an events agency which invites international electronic musicians every month, during wandering parties.
Was the notion of “beauty” passed down to you by your family?
I don’t really like the notion of beauty since I think it’s really biased. I prefer the notion of the well-done work and the beautiful material, notions my grandfather and father passed down to me. My father became a carpenter in the second part of his professional life, and his artisanal work gave me the taste and the passion for well-done works. I like thinking there is a family atavism. But sometimes, the light lack of taste or the little incidents are finally more upright when they are assumed and, as a result, they shine much more than something on which you worked too much. In the end, it’s too smooth.
How was Le Gramme born?
As it’s often the case, it all started with an encounter. I met Erwan Le Louër (who, at that time, had founded the ethical jewels brand JEM). I had this idea of bracelets made according to their weights, and Erwan liked the idea of creating a brand for men. Our complementarity enabled us to create the brand in only three months. In brief, everything came from an elementary form, in 5 models (5 widths) and each of them has the name of its weight, in grams. It’s a way to give back a concrete value to the objects and, at the same time, an indispensable part of lightness at a moment where everything is so oppressive. With hindsight, it was almost insane to create a brand with such a clear-cut collection of only 5 bracelets. But it’s exactly what attracted numerous quality points of sale such as in Paris, and in New York. Our particularity of having a “set” presentation in the material (Corian or Marbre), just like a backbone, has singled out Le Gramme in the different stores. Four years later, we are happily selling our objects in 25 countries and 100 points of sale (concept stores and department stores).
Why did you focus on the jewels for men?
Le Gramme doesn’t intend only to be a brand of jewels for men: our first intuition was to offer timeless essentials. We started with creating “objects to wear” (jewels), but we just opened a new chapter since we now create “functional objects”, such as the rulers we just launched. What’s tougher than offering a present to a man? This analysis leads Le Gramme to work on different worlds of expression, little by little, in order to offer forms, aims, and designs, very simple but also precise. The whole is always very well-made, with a great sense of detail.
Where are your jewels made?
In France, between Ardèche and Doubs. It’s an artisanal and industrial process: the industrial rigour added to the man’s hand.
Who is the man who wears Le Gramme?
He is an urban aesthete, but also his wife and sister – since women also like our objects! In general, the design of our creations is simple, conscientious and minimal – even almost neutral. So they adapt to a lot of different styles, without being intrusive, with simplicity, which implies wearing them with a lot of character. This way, they are assertive, and they highlight, reveal, complete the style without twisting them.
How do you create your collection? Do you favour a material and a process?
It all starts with an intuition, and the definition of a world we like. The first one was the “object to wear”. Then we had to choose an elementary form (for this world, it naturally happened to be the bracelet and ring). Then, we need to choose the material: 925 sterling silver, 18-karat gold (yellow or red). We then choose the texture of the object: smooth, engraved or guilloched. We finally choose the finish: will it be polished, brushed or dull? Then, we engrave the weight of each objects and the diverse hallmarks which prove the high-quality work made in our French workshops. The new world we just talked about is the writing universe, and its first object is functional: a 17 cm square ruler in 925 sterling silver, with three different weights (43g, 83g and 209g). It’s the perfect present for an architect, a joiner, a graphic designer, a lawyer and in general people in love with beautiful things who would like to add such a simple and precious object on their desks.
Who are the artists, craftspeople and master jewellers you prefer?
JAR, who is the real ghost of place Vendôme – even if he is far from the minimalism we love -, can only be respected given his rich and complex world. and are other unmissable jewellers we love. The artists Donald Judd, James Turrell (an artist who works on lights), and Agnès Martin were inspirations for the start of Le Gramme.
How do you wear and use Le Gramme?
The great potential of the brand is that you can pile its different basics up (bracelets and rings). You can play with the weights, materials, textures and finishing touches. An almost unique combination appears and transforms a basic into a unique piece, according the mood and desire. Our customers play along and tell their friends and family about Le Gramme. It renews the opportunity to offer a new Gramme and to complete a collection. The possibilities are endless! Yesterday, I was wearing an accumulation of two bracelets: brushed red gold 41g + reversed polished silver 21g. Today I wear a polished guilloched 33g with horizontal lines + a dull guilloched 33g with pyramids, and between those two, I wear the reversed polished silver 21g. Tonight, the 83g ruler just arrived on the desks of our showroom.
Let’s talk about decoration: the design of your offices is very graphic and manly. What are your references for furniture?
Erwan and I share a certain taste for architecture, design and art. We fully designed our work space, from the desks, shelves, lockers and storage furniture that we all drew, and we chose the furniture as well: , , for the furniture producers; Eames, Perriand, Martin Szekely and the Bouroullec brothers for the designers.
Is there a particular period you like? An iconic designer you specially respect?
The Bauhaus years, but without attachment to the past: I am convinced the future holds surprises in terms of design! Of course, Carlo Scarpa, Andrée Putman, Martin Szekely (we were lucky enough to work in collaboration with him and he drew the shop window of Le Gramme), John Pawson, Joseph Dirand, and Kengo Kuma are architects and designers who are perfectly in the spirit of Le Gramme.
Which model is the most successful?
The polished 21g. It is almost the genesis of the brand.
Who you would dream of seeing wearing your jewels?
We are already lucky enough to have great ambassadors, such as Marie-Agnès Gillot, Alexis Mabille, Augustin Trapenard, Nicolas Ouchenir (the official calligrapher of Le Gramme), but also musicians such as Dixon (German DJ, producer and founder of the label Innervisions) and Agoria (French DJ, producer and founder of the brand new label Sapiens). This eclecticism in the genres, worlds and styles perfectly reflects Le Gramme. However, I wish I could see Tom York on stage with several silver bracelets or Jay Z wearing a brushed yellow gold 99g (it must come from my love for the 90’s).
Credits : Constance Gennari @thesocialitefamily