Design Duet

Design Duet

“We’ve always collaborated on projects together, but for ourselves,” say designers Meghan (Cowan) Devinat 01 JM and Benoit Devinat BID 02, almost in sync. But given their busy lives—renovating a house, raising children, working full-time jobs—the Providence-based couple’s long-held desire to design products together took years to actually happen.

“Our first jewelry concepts were born right around the birth of our first daughter, Juliette, in 2009,” Meghan says. Five years later they managed to launch DUO | DUET based on a line of lovely jewelry made from laser-cut Ultrasuede.

“Our separate backgrounds and skill sets allow us to collaborate in a way that lets the best parts shine,” Meghan says. “Benoit’s understanding of manufacturing and material manipulation allows us to utilize uncommon materials and industrial processes, and my love of decorative arts, use of organic forms and obsession with pattern-making help us create feminine jewelry forms with touches of traditional metal fabrication.” Ultimately, they hope to also produce tabletop items, lighting and furniture with a consistent DUO | DUET aesthetic.

After sharing selected Foundation Studies classes during their first year at RISD, the couple started dating the following year. “It might sound cliché,” Meghan admits, “but we knew right away that we had found our soul mates. Our story is truly rooted in a love affair—with each other and with art.”

“I remember showing up in the Jewelry + Metalsmithing studio at 2:30 or 3 in the morning,” says Benoit, “and waiting for hours for Meghan to finish up.” A native of France, he opted to study in Paris for a semester his senior year—primarily because she was studying in Germany and was only about five hours away by train.

After graduation both landed jobs at small businesses in Providence owned by fellow alumni—he at Item New Produce Development, where he worked for 10 years before it morphed into the medical device company Ximedica, and she at a fledgling jewelry gallery and then for many years in the local costume jewelry industry.

When the Benoits married in 2005, they chose to hold their reception on campus —at Woods-Gerry Gallery, where they had both exhibited work their senior year. “We’re RISD all the way,” Benoit quips. “It’s at the core of everything we do, especially when it comes to critical thinking and design decisions. I’m currently teaching in the Industrial Design department and also work with a group of RISD alums at OCTO Product Development in Pawtucket [RI].”

Now that they’ve finally launched DUO | DUET, Benoit works to keep the company afloat financially while Meghan does most of the hands-on assembly work—when not caring for their three young daughters. Their jewelry is available online, at RISD WORKS and at a growing number of museum and gallery shops across the country.

“As artists I think we’ve always been entrepreneurs at heart, wanting to make our way on our own terms,” notes Meghan. “That’s truly the goal of DUO | DUET.”

Simone Solondz

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