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The Globe and Mail

Opposites attract for Montreal design pair Couper Croiser

kate hutchinson The Globe and Mail

Comprising a relationship that appears to be just as beautifully mismatched as the custom carpets they make, Couper Croiser epitomizes the phrase "design imitating life." Consisting of 30-year-old François Palmer (a downtown visual artist) and 33-year-old Jean-François Rousseau (a suburban commercial designer), the Montreal-based design duo couldn't be more different in personality and taste.

Palmer, who is spokesperson for the brand, defines the collaboration as "a yin-yang brotherhood" in which opposing points of view are what "connect each carpet, mat, rug or prototype." Palmer's ying man, Rousseau, is charged with being the practical voice in their process. "I'm much more asymmetric and poetic with my vision," Palmer explains. "[Jean-François]has a much more geometric, rational eye."

Having stolen the spotlight at Shanghai's 2010 Design Expo, the duo recently nabbed Quebec's prestigious FERDIE interior design award for its latest line of rugs. And now Toronto's style set can catch a first-hand glimpse of the pair's work when its award-winning Découpés collection is unveiled this week at the Interior Design Show.

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Couper Croiser first cut its teeth with an environmentally friendly carpet collection called Ajusté. The Mondrian-meets-postmodern series was initially constructed as an experiment, which, thanks to word of mouth, became popular in hotels and homes alike. Soon enough, the line led to Palmer and Rousseau officially opening up shop in 2006. "We were both out of work so the product was born out of necessity, practicality and whimsy," Palmer says of Ajusté, made primarily from unused carpet odds and ends. Their eco-consciousness informed the firm from the start: "We were shocked to see that so many carpets were not being recycled in Quebec and wanted to do something about it."

Weaving their environment-loving mandate with retro and cinematic sensibilities into each square foot of their concepts ("fashion and sixties cult movie scenes inspire us most," Palmer explains), the pair wanted to ensure their aesthetic didn't resemble the kind of enviro-decor that overuses wheatgrass and oatmeal palettes.

"Green design doesn't have to be swampy," Palmer says. "We want to be part of the changing face of ecological design. We love green buildings [that]don't look like patchwork architecture and want our pieces to [be]the same."

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