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Nicolas Pérignon, tutor: hosting apprentice designers

Nicolas Pérignon, tutor: hosting apprentice designers

Would you like to introduce yourself (training, courses, role)?

I have always been passionate about design and trained as an engineer. I carried out my final degree project in a product design agency. I was then the Manager for New Products in equipment for SME offices and the packaging and automotive Product Design Coordinator in a large British group. I currently manage the TRATO TLV Group’s design office which consists of about ten engineers and technicians. The products developed are lighting fixtures and equipment for hospital settings in which light also has a prominent place. I have been practising my profession between engineering and product design for 16 years now.

How is design approached in your structure?

The benefit of design in our fields is well documented. A hospital room should alleviate the feelings of anxiety that hospitalisation causes in patients, while remaining a place of care for practitioners. We solve this problem through an aesthetic and ergonomic approach.
The act of designing was previously controlled by marketing through design figures without many links to engineering.
The decision to replace design at the heart of the design office, among the engineers and technicians, has helped to better control the cost and time aspects and has also harmonised the ranges. This does not rule out any future collaboration with outside agencies.

Since when have you been taking on apprentices? What levels?

I have been hosting apprentice designers since 2009, from both product design vocational training courses and from design, materials and modelling vocational training courses.

Do the guidance techniques change according to the level/studies of the apprentices?

The technical qualification apprentices become "operational" after their first year. This means that they feel comfortable working in project teams that may include product managers, mechanics, electricians and opticians. A period of three months is enough for a person with a degree. I help apprentice designers via very concrete projects. By adapting the subjects for each level, I try to pass on my experience on processes, modelling, concepts and assemblies using the history of industry and design as a lens.

In your opinion, what are the advantages of taking on apprentices?

Passing on your knowledge helps to reformulate it for yourself: to make a summary of it. It is an equally beneficial exercise for both the apprentice and the tutor. An apprentice has a fresh perspective that makes it possible to reconsider things that we believe to be established. I think that it is very beneficial in terms of creativity.

Why did you choose apprentices from the school?

As far as I know, L’École de design Nantes Atlantique is the only school to offer a product design sandwich course. The school’s reputation is also second to none.

What is your fondest memory as a tutor?

No apprentice has ever left the company without seeing at least one of their products manufactured and marketed. This is a target that I set myself.
So each collaboration is a nice memory, which is evidenced by the product.

How much time do you spend on being a tutor for this apprentice support activity?

Not enough for my liking, but certainly as much as my work will allow me to. The fact that apprentices are in the middle of the design office does make daily support possible.

Do you have any other projects with the school?

Not for the moment, but I’m open to any suggestions!