Raphaël Lutz – designer specialising in tableware

Patricia Lunghi • 12.12.2018

Based in Lausanne, the designer Raphael Lutz is a talented all-rounder, specialising in tableware. Set design, series items or unique pieces for design galleries, made-to-measure furniture – he covers everything. He likes to test, experiment and take on new challenges.

At the age of 34, Raphaël Lutz can post a very full CV. He launched his first start-up at the age of only 17, then a clothing collection and a furniture brand when he was 21 years old. On returning from a sabbatical of two years, which he spent in China and Germany, he started at ECAL (Cantonal Art School of Lausanne) in 2008. After having founded a small service company for home improvements in 2009, in 2012 he established the Studio Raphaël Lutz followed in 2016 by LAB, a creative laboratory dedicated to multi-disciplinary experimentations. This space wants to develop exchanges via collaborations, workshops, meetings between creative people, companies, start-ups, individuals and specialists of all kinds. At Lab, all types of ideas can take shape.

«When I have an idea and I want something, I do everything in my power to obtain it, I am tenacious, I never back down»

Pragmatic and client-focussed, Raphaël Lutz is not afraid to state that feasibility and budget are just as important as aesthetics.  Unlike most designers, he designs and arranges production; «I prefer taking the place of editors and producing my pieces to order, without any intermediary and therefore have a tailor-made item at a fair price, produced by local craftsmen». It’s based on this assumption that his collection of completely personalised tables and shelving units was born, which are produced by a carpenter who is a located a few kilometres away.

Designer’s Table

The son of restaurateurs, Raphaël Lutz has gradually specialised in the culinary field by creating items associated with tableware. Not content to design crockery, he has established a new format called Designer’s Table which brings together his artisan expertise linked to the convivial concept of eating well. Launched in 2017 as part of Lausanne à Table, a foodie show in the capital of the Canton of Vaud, its culinary events not only treat the taste buds but also the eyes. The designer welcomes about fifteen guests to his studio to taste the dishes cooked with local, seasonal ingredients. But it’s not simply about eating well; the aim is to surprise the guests with a unique experience that appeals to all the senses. The meal is presented on original items signed by Raphaël Lutz and made by regional craftsmen. Plates made of ceramic, wood or metal, tools to serve and eat with, a new collection of utensils has been designed for each edition of the four dishes making up the meal. The design brings a unique experience to the guests, who for example eat from a vertical surface, or with a sauce integrated directly in the plate. For the designer, «the aim is not to reinvent how we eat, but to revisit the experience and gestures associated with meals and bring something extra to the table thanks to the design». Following the success of the Designer’s Tables, Studio Raphaël Lutz is laying the table once again in 2018 with a series of new gourmet get-togethers.

Focussing on the local

Whether its tableware, made-to-measure furniture or limited edition design, the work of Raphaël Lutz always puts the craftsmen of the region in the spotlight, which is the reason why the overwhelming majority of his pieces are stamped Made in Vaud. «The studio is very proud that it is able to collaborate with craftsmen in the canton and promote the exceptional expertise it contains. Each project is therefore an opportunity for the public to discover artisan methods, but also to establish collaboration, which encourages the craftsmen to experiment thanks to the design and leads to innovation and added value for each project», emphasises the creator.

Bocuse d’Or, an exceptional springboard

Implemented for the gourmet restaurant Hôtel de Ville de Crissier, the presentation plate for the most important culinary competition in the world is the work of Studio Raphaël Lutz. Mixing design and food set design, Bocuse d’Or 2017 conferred fame and credibility on the studio from Lausanne. Thanks to this experience and the success it brought, the designer was able to forge links with companies and develop new tools to facilitate and glorify food. Having become an expert in culinary design and food innovation, he regularly holds conferences or is involved in the Lausanne Hotel School and EPFL speaking on the subject of innovation through design.

For one of his recent projects Smooth Waves, Confiserie Buet in Lausanne wanted to offer its clients a unique experience. Seeking to achieve this, Raphaël Lutz drew up six simple but surprising items including a carafe for hot chocolate, all made in ceramic by local craftsmen. The concept also had a playful and unusual side in the gestures for use and the shape. Once again, the designer was able to add value to this project, while being very pragmatic in his approach to the problem.

«An entrepreneur before becoming a designer»

, as he himself says, Raphaël Lutz speaks the language of business and puts his expertise at the disposal of start-ups and SME to help them innovate. This is what is called the design of service. Before his atypical start in the world of design, this maverick was a lone crusader but liked to surround himself with partners, craftsmen, clients, caterers, chefs, etc. His entrepreneurial nature prompted him to leave Zurich to return to the land of Vaud «attracted by the fertile soil of innovation around the curve of Lake Geneva and its enormous creative potential.»

For 2019, in parallel with his next industrial design project, a fryer that is 100% from Lausanne, he hopes to «increasingly work with start-ups to make them faster and position himself at the top of innovation.» That’s all we wish for him!

Photography: Clément Lambelet