nitsn is a sustainable French furniture studio excelling in bespoke, one-of-a-kind furniture with a modern twist. In addition to the slow and carefully considered approach, the minimalist furniture — each wooden piece touched up with metal inlays, carved textures or laser engravings to boast unique identity — aims to recreate the short-lived moments of our existence. By connecting ideas of sustainability and renewal, the very essence of nitsn's bespoke pieces is to remind us that nothing is eternal, and that way bring the practice of mindful, circular economy closer to the end customer. Savant went into further detail with Roman Wisznia, nitsn's creative and technical mastermind, regarding what connects the creativity and sustainability behind the brand.
What's unique about the way you imagine furniture?
I see furniture as pieces of nature that we shape to suit human needs. I like to work with natural materials — wood for structure, wool and cotton for fabrics, small touches of polished metals here and there — then shape them with absolute straight lines, like only humans can do. This way, the pieces reflect both the nature and the human side, a perfect balance between the two.
Because every tree is unique, every home is unique, and every person, too, it makes sense to me for each piece of furniture to be unique as well. I understand why mass production eventually has become a standard in the industry. Yet, I like to believe that there is space for a more meaningful approach to work, and to life. Humans have this wonderful ability to think of new things and be creative, and this should be applied every single day. Mass production doesn’t encourage creativity.
What are your brand’s values?
I try to develop genuine relationships with my customers. It matters to me that people who purchase my pieces, understand who I am, and how these pieces were made. My goal is to make sure the person, who will sit on my chair or put their vest on my coat-hanger, is conscious of the seed that was planted to provide the wood they are using. Perhaps even conscious about the person who planted that seed, and realise that everything works in a circular model. Having a neutral environmental impact is therefore an essential part of the consistency and sense I am looking for.
Do you think customers today show more interest towards one-of-a-kind pieces and furniture brands with a story?
I think our societies have reached the peak in bare buy-and-throwaway consumption model. We’ve come to realise that acquiring mass-produced things at an ever increasing pace does not contribute to filling the shells of our existence in any way. I believe we need fewer things, things which will make sense to us and that we will truly care for. Making one-of-a-kind pieces that will live once and never be produced again is a way to remind us that nothing on this planet is eternal, and that the shortness of life is what eventually gives it meaning. The story is equally important, and it has to be clear. If people don’t understand the story, they cannot understand the role they play in it.
What made you start with nitsn?
After I graduated from my mechanical engineering school in France, I went to Stockholm’s Royal institute of Technology, where I specialised in renewable energy systems. That Scandinavian adventure certainly played a role in giving me a taste of a slow and cosy lifestyle, as well as minimalist design. After that, I worked for an international organisation known as the authority in energy security and energy-related environmental concerns for three years. I enjoyed it, but quickly realised that I would feel more at ease creating my own means of expression in this world. nitsn appeared to be the answer, a creative activity that would gather all my interests — visual arts, craftsmanship, engineering, politics and environment — in one place. I taught myself woodwork mostly on Youtube, spent my first salaries on professional tools, and began this adventure.
"I understand why mass production eventually has become a standard in the industry. Yet, I like to believe that there is space for a more meaningful approach to work, and to life."
What’s the niche you aim to bring to the market?
With nitsn I chose the approach to have very simple designs for each piece, that I call my standards, and to differentiate them with subtle touches, so that every piece ends up being different. These touches can consist of metal inlays, carvings or laser engravings. They are usually fine-detailed and time-consuming works, but I make each of my pieces an artwork of their own. My standard designs are just like a blank canvas on which I can express my creativity to create a continuous sequence of unique pieces.
What's your opinion about sustainability trend in furniture design?
Making stools from recycled cardboard is great and can prove very useful. Finding uses for things that are abundant and that should be recycled is one important part of the equation. Another part of this equation is to reconsider the way we consume objects and furniture. My personal approach is to keep things simple and focus on the essential. Whatever I can do without, I’ll do without. Owning fewer things gives me extra freedom that I really enjoy. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t redecorate your place when you feel like it, but perhaps there is another way than throwing away your sofa, chairs and coffee table, and replacing them with new ones. We never get tired of seeing trees in the forest. Yet they are the same trees, only the change in seasons make us see them differently, and their appeal is renewed every year. Perhaps there is something to think about there.
"Making one-of-a-kind pieces, that will live once and will never be produced again, is a way to remind us that nothing on this planet is eternal, and that the shortness of life is what eventually gives it meaning."
What’s your brand’s link with sustainability?
My approach to sustainability is to make robust and great looking pieces that my customers will want to take care of. The goal is for the piece to last at least as long as the time it took for the tree that provided the wood to grow. I also committed to planting one new tree for each piece produced. If my customers have a garden, I offer them to plant it there. This way, I create the missing link in completing ‘the circle’.
What are the materials you are using, where are they sourced from?
The wood I use exclusively comes from French forests that I know are managed responsibly. I have nothing against foreign woods, but the further away you get them, the harder they become to trace. It matters to me that I know exactly where the things I use come from. And using local resources simply makes more sense. Because France only produces linen and velvet, I had to look elsewhere for my wool. I’ve had a great experience with a Danish producer, which manufactures absolutely stunning fabrics made in a transparent and environmentally conscious way.
"My standard designs are just like a blank canvas on which I can express my creativity to create a continuous sequence of unique pieces."
What trends appeal to you personally in furniture design?
Because I don’t have an academic background in design, I really draw what comes to my mind and find a way to make it work once I am settled in the workshop. I don’t usually follow the design trends. I like things simple, and straight lines are usually the simplest way between two points. My engineering background encourages me to understand, how everything is made and how it works together. I think this is reflected in my designs in which every part is visible and every joint shows clearly. Nothing is hidden. Some of the decorations I make, like metal inlays, can require complex calculations and very fine adjustments of CNC machinery. Yet, when you look at the finished piece, a straight line of brass triangles inlayed in a piece of walnut, following an inclined plane, looks very simple. I think that’s where the beauty of the nitsn pieces really stands out — in this apparent simplicity.
Do you reckon French customers are more after comfort, visual appeal or a mix of both?
When it comes to comfort vs visual appeal, I am not sure what the French market is after. Because being ergonomic is such a crucial quality for a chair, I made the designs of my chairs entirely parametric, so that I can adjust any dimension and angle to precisely fit my customer’s body types. I just need the measurements of 5 parts of the body and my computer can instantly generate a fully bespoke chair according to their measures. I don’t think any mass-produced chair can achieve such a perfect fit. It’s like wearing couture as opposed to ready-to-wear.