In the digitally-designed architecture of Nicholas Préaud, the only constraints are the ones you create
In conversation with Ellie Brown, January 12, 2023
Art — Art, Design
The Paris-based architect and digital designer, Nicholas Préaud, has had an appetite for 3D software since he graduated from studying architecture in 2013. Préaud started out working at studios as a junior architect designing, modelling and creating digital imagery for projects. “As the years went on,” he tells Present Space over Zoom, “I got better and better, and eventually just started doing it for myself.” 3D software has, Préaud says, “proven to be a very valuable asset.” And that’s not an overstatement. Even if the architect and designer fell into using 3D software, there’s now huge demand for the kind of design he has come to specialise in. These days, splits his time between real-life architectural practice, digital design and R&D (research and development). Dreamy, cool and airy environments are characteristic of the designer’s digital - imagined - spaces. In the lounge space of Villa del Soffio, for example, golden sunshine softly illuminates the serene interiors. Seen from outside, meanwhile, we see how the villa protrudes from a cliff face, hovering above the glistening beachfront. If you look closely, a sun umbrella and two deck chairs are one of only a few signs of life. Of course that’s kind of the point; the villa is a digital render, made with Préaud’s regular collaborator, the digital interior designer Charlotte Taylor. That’s not to say that the digital and the physical cannot overlap - as Préaud discusses below, Casa Atibaia (another digital collaboration with Taylor from 2020) has attracted interest from clients who want to see the project built in real life. When I speak to Préaud over Zoom, he has just unveiled Timeless Ruin, a project with Manuel Cervantes, in which an imagined wooden structure takes the form of an inverted pyramid. Again, the two collaborators hope Timeless Ruin can be conceived in real life. The “whole point” for Préaud is that the digital might inspire the physical: “I see it as research,” the designer notes. “When my calendar opens up and I get a bit more free time, I’ll say, ‘I saw this item which made me want to explore this idea.’ And then I’ll [work on that] as personal research, but that absolutely [also] nourishes my portfolio.”
In conversation with ELLIE BROWN
Images courtesy of NICHOLAS PRÉAUD
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