Centdegrés, that turns 30 next year, was born from this very ideal: the meeting of two very different individuals - myself, a designer and David Nitlich, a Science Po graduate. Although both born-and-bred Parisians, we met in Hong Kong, a place that was new to us both! We founded the agency on our mutual willingness to disrupt and on our differences and complementarity that have remained our fundamental values. We had never before worked in an agency, so we invented our own tools, without realizing that they too were breaking with conventional notions. We built our various teams by making sure that we mixed individuals with different approaches and ideas; opting for neither a dogmatic or authoritarian management style where contradiction, reassessment and debate are indispensable, even vital.
A fertile discomfort
From the very becoming, we brought our creative members directly to our clients, something that destabilized everyone: confronting a business school and design graduate seemed incongruous, even inappropriate. At the beginning, they did have a hard time understanding each other, but once the effect of surprise waned, and sometimes even discomfort, the result was always interesting and useful.
It is on this basis that we developed the agency: by working with our clients as much as work for them. By creating zones of discomfort and confrontation of ideas that nurtured great ideas. By taking the time - its true, as these sessions are much longer than the presentation of something already planned- to co-create together, to generate innovative solutions born from the confrontation of ideas and the combination of different personalities and cultures.
Time, energy and collective intelligence
The time taken to do, un-do, debate and sometimes even fight with complex situations, by looking for a solution together, is far from being a waste of time. We cannot push limits without putting in the necessary time, energy and collective intelligence. This is how surprising, rich, passionate and innovative solutions are born.
This is exactly why we named the agency centdegrés: because our most beautiful projects are designed far from the lukewarm, comfortable and consensual spheres but in the boiling movement of meetings, exchanges and confrontation. We are not content with being simple technicians. Before providing our clients with any answers, we ask them questions specifically to help them think differently, disrupt and disturb them and ultimately push them further, where innovation truly lies.
In’pressive, innovative adventure
It is exactly in this spirit that we launched in 2010, the in’pressive adventure. We have been creating fragrance and cosmetics bottles for over 20 years, and always dreamed of designing an interior shape inside a vial. One that would contain the scent or product and that would sculpt itself to its contents, making it more beautiful, more desirable and more just, in a world that demands singularity and uniqueness for products and for brands. In consequence, we partnered with a large glass-making group - the Pochet group - to find an innovative and technical solution that would allow a sculptured form inside the bottle. Once a completely new solution was found, we used this innovative technique for Cartier’s La Panthère fragrance.
But technical innovation is only one piece of the puzzle! We constantly work to modify, push and reinvent it. We developed a disruptive project for the Cosmoprof show in Hong Kong last November. We reunited several experts and various talents from our Pochet + centdegrés ecosystem including other sources like Fiabila, one of the experts on nail varnish and Beautystreams, a beauty trends agency. This collective approach resulted in a product that breaks conventional codes. Not only did we produce an innovative product, but we presented it at one of the most beautiful beauty expositions in the world. We offered it to hundreds of women from the professional beauty world hailing from all over Asia, Australia, the United States, Middle East, Europe etc. In return, we welcomed their thoughts and advice while offering them a manicure.
By combining so many professionals on one project and creating this experience, using the help of the exhibit visitors, whose advice was so precious to us, we were able to incorporate all of these actors in the direct transformation of the beauty world and its market. This adventure, a new way for creatives to create and design products was also an innovative and successful test.