Meet the 21-year-old outsider who is shaking up luxury furniture in France


After two years of creation, the inaugural collection includes furniture made using traditional techniques, such as inlaid glass tables, wooden chairs and an eight-foot oak desk. The results, however, are far from conventional. The pieces incorporate unexpected shapes, additional legs, unusual surface treatments and material choices.

The Chanfrein desk by Hartis Paris.

Photo: Courtesy of Hartis Paris

Besnier adheres to a precept he calls “sophisticated simplicity”: “Nothing in our lives is as simple as we think it is,” he says. The young entrepreneur believes that the subtle and hard-to-execute details are what will separate his product from a flooded market. “The idea is not to show that it was complicated,” he says.

Each of the new works is the result of a long collaboration that the entrepreneur has established with more than 38 artisans throughout France. “I have the advantage of being based in a country with an incredibly rich cultural heritage,” he says. “All our cities have evolved thanks to the diversity of our artisanal talents. It’s a tradition that I grew up with.

Hugo Besnier.

Photo: Courtesy of Hartis Paris

Finding the right partners was essential. “At first I brought them designs, but then relied on their eye to tailor the designs based on what’s doable and the little details they suggest,” he says, referring to some of the technical elements, which are also an integral part of the aesthetic. . “Their input has been a big part of the process,” he says.

Coordinating all these manufacturers for a single cohesive collection was no small task. His process relied heavily on testing different colors and combinations of materials. These trials and errors have produced unexpected results, such as the marriage of granite and molded glass. “It produced a transparent, textured quality that we could not have imagined when modeling the preliminary 3D renderings. I really wanted to push the materials as far as possible, ”he describes.

At times, Besnier’s desire for experimentation led to demands for unconventional manufacturing processes, some of which might be at odds with the priorities of more risk-averse artisans. “The cabinetmaker who assembled the Frame armchair was taken aback when I asked him to hammer the solid oak surfaces for a more rough-hewn finish. He responded by saying, “All of my previous clients have asked for a perfectly smooth wood, why would you want to roughen it?” .

Besnier’s hope for “responsible capitalism” extends both to the Hartis Paris product and to the treatment of the people who make it. This means that the partners must also be on the same wavelength: “It is essential that I meet with each of our manufacturers to [make sure] they share the same beliefs, ”he says. The young entrepreneur reports that he only wants to work with individuals and craft businesses that source materials locally.

“Everyone involved in the process can share the wins equally. These are not only our direct employees or business partners but also makers, too often excluded from end-of-year bonuses and other forms of recognition, ”he explains. “We take a lot from them but do not always give them what they deserve, which seems strange to me, they are so essential to success.

“I create a luxury brand by producing furniture,” he admits. “I’m an outsider trying to shake things up and offer another perspective. “

A detail of the hammered finish of the Ossature armchair.

Photo: Courtesy of Hartis Paris

About Oscar L. Smith

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