Firing on all cylinders🔥
INTRODUCING DOMINIQUE IMBERT, FOUNDER OF FOCUS
AND DESIGNER OF THE WORLD'S FIRST SUSPENDED 360° PIVOTING FIREPLACE
Dominique Imbert, the creative force and founder of Focus, was born in Montpellier in 1940. After studying literature in London and Paris, he became, "by accident", as he puts it, an ethnologist in Alaska and an assistant chef in Manhattan, before being awarded a Doctorate in Sociology at the Sorbonne and becoming a literature professor in a Paris Lycée. After teaching for four years, he decided he preferred shaping metal to moulding young minds, and in 1967, he set up a workshop making steel sculptures in the village of Viols-le-Fort in the garrigue north of Montpellier where the company continues to be headquartered.
It was at this studio that he designed his first fireplace for his own personal use, then repeated the exercise for others who fell in love with what he had created ... and this was how Focus began. This self-taught sculptor-designer moves easily between his many passions, creating bronze and steel sculptures as well as fireplaces and furniture. The thread that unites all his creations is his insistence on quality, a pursuit shared by the exceptional team that works with him. In order to attain the quality he demands, Focus runs the production and distribution of all their products, and in the face of outsourcing has chosen to support the local production sites of their fireplaces.
For this free-spirited artist, the independence to follow intuition rather than convention or trend is his guiding force: "What interests me is discovering and shaping the poetry and spirit of an object," he says. Yet this artist has also negotiated million dollar contracts in Japan, exports fireplaces to markets from Lithuania to Russia, Slovenia to Israel, and is directly or indirectly responsible for some 120+ jobs.
Q1. You have created a global business designing fireplaces - how do you see the future of fireplaces?
A1. “Fireplaces have evolved over the last 50 years and demands for alternatives to wood burners has increased. We have introduced gas versions, Eco Ready and now the latest EFocus to prepare for changes coming soon. We must take greater responsibility for the planet where we can. Humans have an irrefutable love of fire and a need to keep warm, fires in one format or another will always be required”.
Q2. Your fires are all made in France, how important is this to you?
A2. “The quality of the workmanship is vital to the design and we can assure our clients that this is the best in the world. All our skilled craftsman are dedicated and an invaluable part of our business. We want our fires to stand the test of time”.
Q3. Your fires have become design icons throughout the world; did you ever imagine this level of popularity?
A3 “I knew immediately that people liked them as that is how the business started with friends commissioning me. Did I think the business would grow to this extent? I always believed the design was good and original. I am not a follower of fashion. and I am pleased to see how it has grown, but I am always a little bit surprised too.”
Q4. When did you know you had created an Icon?
A4. “When several museums including the Guggenheim got in touch and asked to show our Gyrofocus”.
Q5. What's a momentous memory?
Q5. “Working with the architect Sir Norman Foster. He knew what he wanted and I knew the best solution - the result was the magnificent 14 metre high telescopic Filiofocus. it has become a best seller and won so many awards. A very proud moment in my life.”
Q6. Do you have a philosophy?
A6. Dominique cites Le Corbusier with an enigmatic smile: "Tradition consists of inventing your epoch ... “.