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Alain Gilles: Influential Designer and a Jury Member

Alain Gilles is a visionary designer renowned for his architectural and innovative products that strike a perfect balance between simplicity and functionality. After an early career in finance, he pursued industrial design and opened his own studio in 2007 to unleash his creativity through furniture design, product design, and art direction projects. Gilles’ collections blend graphic emotions with sustainable materials, earning collaborations with leading brands and recognition from esteemed design organizations.

The Feeel Design World Prize celebrates Gilles’ architectural vision by showcasing designers who merge AI and human ingenuity to create groundbreaking designs. As a jury member, Gilles seeks collections that respond to modern disposability with authentic, handcrafted pieces prioritizing simplicity and enduring beauty over fleeting trends.

Alain Gilles: A Trailblazer in Design

Alain Gilles is a visionary designer who established his eponymous studio in 2007 and has since amassed an extensive portfolio of thoughtfully designed furnishings and objects. He is ever-curious about the world around him, often snapping pictures of things that inspire new ideas, and appreciates the freedom to work creatively. Gilles is sincere in his efforts to design solutions that enhance everyday moments and environments.

Alain Gilles (portrait_by Lydie Nesvadba)

Early Career Switch

Alain Gilles would never be where he is today without a financially questionable decision. At the age of 32, on the advice of his wife, the Belgian designer dropped a successful career in international finance to enroll in an industrial design program. He shares, “I worked for five years in international finance, but I was always dreaming about products. I had all these ideas, and I didn’t want to forget them, so I actually couldn’t sleep sometimes. One day, when I was 32, my wife said to me, ‘You should be studying design.’ The day after that, I thought, ‘I am free now. Somebody said I could do it!’ So I enrolled in an industrial design program.”

Transition to Design

Reflecting on his career shift, Gilles shares, “It’s very simple: I wasn’t living my own life! In a way, I was following the path of my late father who died when I was in my early teens. I was working for J.P. Morgan, doing my job in the manner expected of me, but it wasn’t my life.” He adds, “Design is my life, not my work. Ever since my teenage years, I have taken pictures of small details that help me to think about new concepts.” Gilles encourages others to follow their dreams, saying, “I would say: ‘Live your own dreams. Believe in yourself and go for it. And remember, we only live once!'”

Product Collaborations

Gilles has designed a diverse range of products in collaboration with various brands, including:

  • Cross Chair – Bonaldo
  • Re-Form Console Modulable – Wewood
  • Louver Dining Table – Bonaldo
  • Pi Chair – Bonaldo
  • Element – Bonaldo
  • Edge Part II – Milla & Milli
  • Canvas – Bonaldo
  • Console One – Bonaldo
  • Edge – Milla & Milli
  • Mario, Terra, Morse, Parenthese, Brickx, Sillon, Cruz Planter, Modulor Cork, Cascade – Greenmood
  • Hashira – Ligne Roset
  • Padiglioni, Sculptural, Dogma, Backdrop – Bonaldo
  • Half & Half / Wall Version – Hind Rabii
  • Fragilité & Matérialité – RBC x Bonaldo
  • Wabi Bed – Saba
  • BuzziSpark Low – BuzziSpace

Saba, Wabi Bed (design Alain Gilles)

Alain Gilles: The Studio

After studying Political Sciences and Marketing Management, Alain Gilles worked in the international finance world for five years. However, he decided to follow his true passion and, thanks to the moral support of his wife, went back to study Industrial Design in France. In late 2007, he opened his own studio to pursue his dreams and develop his personal approach to product design, furniture design, art direction, and scenography.

Design Philosophy and Approach

Gilles’ design philosophy revolves around what he calls “Simplexity” and “New Simplicity.” He explains, “I work on what I have come to call ‘Simplexity’, which means pieces that are easy to understand, but that actually have different layers of understanding, if that makes sense!” Examples of this concept include the Big table for Bonaldo and the Barry table for Miniforms, where the perception of the products evolves as one walks around them.

Miniforms Barry Table Rectangular (design Alain Gilles)

Gilles also focuses on “New Simplicity,” creating pieces that use less material but still have a well-defined personality. He believes good design and his design philosophy are warm, generous, graphic, and architectural.

  1. Collaboration and Partnership: Gilles views his collaborations with different companies as partnerships rather than client-designer relationships. He states, “I never see any of the brands I work with as a client. I see them as a partner, since we will strive together to make the best possible design. A project that makes sense, has long-lasting qualities, and who knows, could even one day become a design icon.”
  1. Tailored Approach: Gilles adapts his approach based on the company he collaborates with. For brands like Buzzispace and Greenmood, which focus on contract and office spaces, functionality is the dominant aspect of good design. For home furnishings, the visual aspect of the concept takes precedence. However, ease of use remains a priority across all his designs.
  1. Embracing Challenges: Gilles enjoys designing products he hasn’t designed before or working with new materials, as he finds the challenge interesting. One difficulty he faces is finding the right balance when working on the comfort of upholstered furniture, as comfort preferences vary across cultures and regions.

Wewood, The Re-form Console (design Alain Gilles)

Sustainable Design Approach

  1. Timeless and Durable Designs: Gilles believes in well-conceived and well-designed products that stand the test of time. As his studio works in the luxury sector, their designs are meant to have a second or third life in the second-hand or vintage market.
  1. Natural and Recyclable Materials: The studio prefers working with simple and honest materials like wood, metal, glass, and ceramic, which are natural and can be easily disassembled and recycled. Many of these materials are crafted locally in Europe by skilled artisans.
  1. Exploring Alternative Materials: Gilles and his team are currently developing new pieces using alternative materials like recycled cork and exploring other recycled materials with their own aesthetic appeal. While they had experimented with alternative materials earlier, sustainability is now a top priority, making these materials more popular.
  1. Biophilic Design: The studio is working on a new collection for the Greenmood brand, focusing on biophilic pieces that improve well-being in workplaces and indoor public spaces. Greenmood creates green walls using specially preserved plants, reducing noise pollution, adding beauty, and boosting productivity.

Greenwood Stockholm Furniture Fair (photo by Marek Swoboda)


Alain Gilles’ journey from the world of finance to becoming an internationally celebrated designer is a testament to his unwavering pursuit of passion and creativity. His pioneering design philosophies of “Simplexity” and “New Simplicity” have left an indelible mark on contemporary design, inspiring designers worldwide to embrace simplicity while infusing their creations with depth and personality.

Through his collaborations with leading brands and his work as a jury member for the Feeel Design World Prize, Gilles continues to shape the design landscape, advocating for designs that prioritize sustainability, functionality, and enduring beauty. His commitment to exploring innovative materials and biophilic design solutions underscores his vision for a future where design seamlessly blends with environmental consciousness.