A Conversation On Aesthetics with Zoe Imber and Romain Parize from Homefolks

In this interview series, I explore aesthetics in conversation with inspiring personalities from the fields of architecture, design, and art. My guests discuss what they consider aesthetic, and how their perception impact both their own experience and the experience of those who view or use their work.

Homefolks is a design studio based in London, founded in 2020 by French duo Zoe Imber and Romain Parize. With a narrative-driven approach to design, the studio creates sculptural objects and furniture that explore contrasts, scales, and balance, with a strong emphasis on materiality.

Homefolks strives to create enduring objects of exceptional quality, produced in small batches and made to order, using sustainably sourced materials. Their collection is carefully handmade using traditional techniques, and the studio has built a network of skilled artisans in England, France, and Italy who share their commitment to quality. Each object presents unique variations reflecting its artisanal nature and the gesture of the maker.

Homefolks founders Romain Parize and Zoe Imber.
Courtesy of Homefolks
Homefolks founders Romain Parize and Zoe Imber. Courtesy of Homefolks

You recently hosted ‘The Pier’, an installation in your temporary showroom together with photographer Edvinas Bruzas. Tell us, what is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

ZoeThe Pier was a stopover in the odyssey of our earlier campaign Horizons, conceived as an invitation to reset and explore our inner worlds. Naturally, we asked our friend Edvinas – whose body of work echoes with our inspirations – to intervene in the space for a creative dialogue.

The essence of this project was to bridge our narrative approaches and to find a sense of balance within an installation where objects and photographs worked in synergy. 

Romain: We feel this collaboration gave a particular dimension and a new resonance to our work. Creating thoughtful encounters with like-minded creatives, as well as taking over singular spaces to tell our stories, is something we aim to develop and cultivate.

What do you perceive as aesthetic and when was the last time you considered something aesthetic?

Zoe: We are both nourished by our environment and create things in response to it. There are an infinite number of places, shapes, materials and textures that we consider as forms of aesthetics. 
Sometimes, things we hardly take notice of or the smallest detail can leave an impression and inspire a new idea.

The Pier, Homefolks x Edvinas Bruzas ephemeral installation on Fish Island, London Courtesy of Homefolks.
The Pier, Homefolks x Edvinas Bruzas ephemeral installation on Fish Island. London. Courtesy of Homefolks.
Rive side table, smoked oak. 2022. Courtesy of Homefolks.

Your approach is to blur the boundaries between art and design – what do you think is the biggest challenge when it comes to combining the two disciplines?

Zoe: We have an intuitive and personal approach to design. The soul and the meaning of everyday objects are as important to us as their functionality. We perceive our creations as functional sculptures; depending on how they are used, their role can change, be it utilitarian or decorative.

Romain: We like defining ourselves as “formtellers”. Stories are inherent to our practice, they shape our designs as they inform our image and communication. We like the idea that in some ways, our objects can talk to people and resonate with their sensibilities. 

It is probably what brings us closer to the fundamental intention behind art.

We perceive our creations as functional sculptures; depending on how they are used, their role can change, be it utilitarian or decorative.

Instruments candleholders set, brass edition. 2020 Courtesy of Homefolks.
Rive side table, ebonised oak, 2021. Courtesy of Homefolks.

What makes something art, in your opinion?

Romain: Simply put, art is something that moves us. It is a proposal, an act that can deeply impact us, sometimes inexplicably. It is not about aesthetics, but rather how we perceive and respond to it.

How do you define timeless aesthetics?

Zoe: The very idea of a timeless aesthetic is a matter of perception; the freedom of our time has proven that odd or improbable objects always find a place within well-curated interiors. 

By nature, we as designers strive for our work to pass the test of time and trends. When developing a new piece, we always seek to capture and emphasise the essential, organically eliminating peripheral or purely ornamental elements.

We use noble and durable materials, with the idea that the patina they will develop over time will, eventually, lend even more character to our pieces.

Simply put, art is something that moves us. It is a proposal, an act that can deeply impact us, sometimes inexplicably.

Horizons 2022 campaign Courtesy of Homefolks.
Sepia tray, cremo delicato marble, 2022. Courtesy of Homefolks.

Aesence is a creative studio and digital design magazine with a high curatorial approach. Founded by Sarah Dorweiler, a creative mind and entrepreneur from Berlin, her goal is to capture the feeling of harmony, balance and inner peace in her curatorial work and photography.