Alain Gilles
"At one point you simply have to believe in yourself"

Alain Gilles pushes the limits of his profession, tackling everything from global projects of basic interior design.

At one point, it seemed obvious that design was what I really wanted to do. International finance was just not me.
Born in 1970, Alain Gilles is a Belgian designer with a particularly unique background. Upon completing his studies in Political Sciences and Marketing Management, Alain Gilles started his career in finance. However, after spending half a decade in the international financial world, he realised that design was his true calling and decided to resume his studies in France, this time delving into Industrial Design.

As Gilles himself narrates: “I just wasn’t at all living my own life. I understood it very quickly when entering the world of international finance. In a way, it was so much the opposite of what I was looking for that it gave me that extra drive to gamble it all and take a career break to study industrial design.”

Big Table, designed for Bonaldo (2009)

“It was a big step, and I didn’t want to go back! My wife helped me take the decision, since she allowed me to think about doing something else —morally. While working in the financial world, I had undertaken some marketing management studies, thinking that would be a good in-between job, but it just wasn’t enough for me, I really needed to be able to create.”

Mass Table, designed for Bonaldo (2016)

After completing his further studies, Alain Gilles joined designer Xavier Lust at his firm, and later Quinze & Milan.

Though Gilles has his own design studio, he has also created designs for other companies, including our Bonaldo.

Design is also about people. A designer eventually creates things that will be used by people, so having lived different lives really helps.
In 2007, further pursuing his dreams, Gilles opened his own studio, through which he has developed his own personal approach to product design, furniture design, art direction and interior architecture. Since its founding, he has collaborated with several international editors, such as Qui est Paul?, Galerie Gosserez, Magnitude, O’Sun, Buzzispace, Casamania and our very own Bonaldo.

“I got all my energy from my dream. That one day I would have the chance to see all the ideas in my head come true…  At one point, you simply have to believe in yourself, especially in a world like the world of design, where only a few people have the chance to see their designs get produced and, above all, the chance to make a living out of it.”

 

“Every time I start a project, I always try to do the best that I can and no less, because I know that since this is something I longed for so long – for there is always a chance to have the opportunity to create something new. I like the idea of being able to surprise or arouse emotions in people that look at or even buy my designs. Personally, I’ve never tried to become “designer of the year” …  It just happened. You can’t apply for the “title”, it is the people that get to decide.”

Alain Gilles’ work has been commended by numerous awards and prizes.

I get all my energy from my dream, that one day I will have the chance to see all the ideas in my head come true…
Several of Gilles’ products have been awarded international prices, such as the Henry Van De Velde Label (2008, 2015) for his Tectonic tables and Structure sofa, both designed for Bonaldo; the Design for Asia Golden Award (2012) for his Nomad solar portable lamp; The Red Dot “Best of the Best” award for his Welded table; and the Good Design Award (2009, 2012) for his Tracks Table, Buzzi picnic table collection and Big Table, respectively.

 

In 2012, he was even named Designer of the Year by the prestigious Interieur Kortrijk Fair; with the members of the jury at the 2012 Design Awards stating that, “Alain Gilles’ designs are solid and relevant, and show his industrial responsibility. At the same time, they show a poetic side.”