French designer Inga Sempé is celebrated internationally for her humanistic approach to design, using nuanced tones and textures to create furniture, lighting and accessories that are at home in any space.

Her metal Panier, designed for Hay in a range of colors, shapes and sizes, embodies her appreciation for the quirky and original. Each model features a unique combination of cutout shapes that echoes the trail of crumbs left behind on a table when a bread basket has been emptied. We spoke to Inga about her design process, where she finds inspiration and the challenges of her work. 

Photos by Claire Lavabre and StudioSempix.

What inspired you when you designed Panier?

Since the precise subject was “bread baskets” right from the beginning, I was attracted by the shapes of crumbs. That's why I didn’t want all the outcuts in the metal to be made with straight lines, but instead made of “broken lines,” just like crumbs.

How did the design process start?

It always begins with my sketches. I start with finding patterns, the hardest part, and then the shapes for the baskets and their different possible uses: holding bread, stationary, bathroom supplies. A lot of mock-ups made in paper and cut out by our blade machine created a lot of work, because we had to remove the outcut parts by hand when the details were too small.

Tell us about the colour scale. How did you decide which colours to use?

It is always important to have a balanced colour scale, with a very basic colour, a bright one, an original one, and a dark one. By an “original” one, I mean a colour that does not become too obvious over a period of time. 

I am terribly bored by designers who only think in white, black, grey and red. Or designers who think about colours as if they were working in the toy industry: the yellow, the blue, the green, the red, without trying to find them in any different ways. Why not a reddish green, a blueish green or a brownish red, for instance?

Which part of the design process do you enjoy the most?

I don’t always enjoy designing; it can be very painful depending on the project. In this project, I enjoyed finding the patterns, but it was a very, very long process.

Which of the baskets is your favourite, and why?

I like the bright-blue oval one very much, because it reminds me of all the enamelled kitchen basics, like pans or coffee pots.

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