Who are you/what do you do?
Hi! I am Claire Evrard. I’m the founder of Common Modern, a new paper goods brand from Switzerland.
Is there a story behind the name (if it's not your own?)
Finding a name was HARD! I wanted something that reflected my belief that even the most everyday products can be beautiful. Also a name that didn’t lock me into any one category, because you never know where the brand might stretch in the future!
How old is the business and how did you get started?
The brand was officially founded in 2019 but I had been working on the designs and products for maybe a year before launch.
I’ve been a graphic designer for more than 20 years. I grew up in Melbourne and I worked at home and overseas until life eventually brought me to Switzerland. After designing other peoples brands for so long, I dreamed of one day launching my own. And, I’ve always loved stationery but when I shopped my favourite local stores I noticed that while there was an appreciation for good design, I couldn’t see many Swiss stationery brands in the mix. So I jumped in!
Do you have a style? What are you known for?
Growing up in Australia I have a love for the sun and bright colours. Many Swiss brands are more restrained in this sense so locally we stand out a bit - especially selling brightly coloured products even in winter! I have always been drawn to the bold, graphic, geometric designs of the 60’s and 70’s, designers like Saul Bass, Milton Glaser, Enzo Mari and almost everything done by Marimekko during this time. And I think after my years studying and practicing graphic design it was only natural that the style of the brand reflects this.
Who/what/where inspires you?
Common Modern products are organised in design collections, like a fashion brand. Our current collections are inspired by locally found botanicals and fruits in our Ginkgo Pop and In Season collections, and Swiss design - the first of these being a local historical architect Gustave Falconnier who invented the glass brick. His work inspired the graphic geometric patterns found in our Glasshouse collection.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A graphic designer. Boring I know! But my favourite part of any school project was drawing the cover page. When I discovered there was a career in this I never looked back.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Have confidence. Be brave. Just try. Keep an open mind. Nothing will work out as you think it will, but quite often the reality will be even better.
How did you learn your craft?
I studied graphic design at uni in Melbourne then worked for years in agencies in Melbourne, London, New York, Geneva and Singapore. I’ve worked with some amazing designers, strategists and clients over the years and have learned so much from them and my experiences along the way.
What do you do on your days off?
I have 2 small kids so I spend most of my time with my family. We pass a lot of time in the garden these days, the forest, on the lake and in the mountains. We’re pretty lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world.
Biggest highlight or achievement to date?
For years I visited Maison & Objet Paris looking for inspiration. I always dreamed that one day I might be on the other side presenting a brand of my own there. Earlier this year I did it. It was amazing and I felt so proud to be included in such great company and receive so much positive feedback on what I had created.
There is so much that goes into running a small business that my previous experience didn’t prepare me for. At the beginning everything I didn’t know was felt overwhelming so I approached it one task at a time and taught myself how to do it or asked for help when I needed it. Step by step.
What sparks joy in what you do?
Seeing my designs come to life on printed products is always a buzz on delivery day. And now I am hearing feedback from customers how much they love their Common Modern purchases - that’s a new kind of joy that I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of!
Dream stockists/brand to collaborate with?
MoMa Design Store and The Conran Shop. Aim high I say!
Any lessons you'd pass on?
Don’t waste too many years trying to dream up the perfect product idea that no-one has ever thought of. Choose something you love and put your stamp on it. For sure where you start will not be where you end up so the key is to just get started!
What's next for you and your business?
We are experiencing a bit of a reset moment after most of our clients shuttered their stores during the pandemic. Things are slowly opening up and hopefully we can get back on track to building our business and getting our name out there. Common Modern will be back at Maison & Objet soon when it reopens and we look forward to expanding our stockist list in a big way! I have a few new product ideas up my sleeve too so I am working on launching those in the next year. Exciting times ahead!