While nearly one million people continue to make the journey into the U.S. every year, there’s no question that leaving one's home behind and transitioning to life in a new country with a different culture comes with unique challenges.
Aside from entering into a society that often speaks a different language and abides by different laws, one of the more difficult tasks for many is making a name for themselves in their field, something that is arguably more challenging when it comes to the art world. One artist who has made the transition quite successfully is French designer and entrepreneur Thony Perrudin.
“We were attracted by the land of opportunities the USA had to offer. As of today, we do not regret having taken the plunge. We feel more open to the world, more patient, more tolerant and able to adapt to more situations,” explains Perrudin, who moved with his family to the U.S. in 2010.
“Some friends thought we were crazy, others thought we were very brave, but everyone who loves us understood that we needed to live this fantastic experience.”
Hailing from the Brittany region of France, Perrudin was drawn to the arts at an early age. After cultivating his artistic talent at the EESAB Superior European School of Art, as well as at the Brassart Superior School of Design, he opened a design business in France where his interests in art, entrepeneurialship and designing spaces could intersect.
“I was working in the same field as I do now, designing and decorating houses. I had my own company and was handling basically all aspects of the business there,” recalls Perrudin. “My projects were mainly located on the Brittany south coast, where I was living. My clients were, for the most part, from Paris owning secondary houses in the area and were in demand of design to create their perfect retreat vibe and space.”
While he had created a successful business at home in France, he admits that even at an early age he had been looking to experience a different way of living, and had always found the U.S. to be intriguing. Shortly after the 2008 market crash when housing prices were at a historical low, he turned his sights to Miami, Florida, which he believed was a hotspot for opportunities in terms of both design and real estate; and he was right.
After selling everything he had in France, including his business, and preparing to take the plunge– Perrudin caught the attention of the series “Sept a Huit,” one of the most popular nightly news shows in France, which airs on TF1. Thanks to his background as a designer and his decision to invest in properties in Miami, he was the perfect fit for a segment “Sept a Huit” was doing in Miami.
“It was a new experience for me, I was able to spend three days with the TV crew in many places in Miami. I was coming to invest and redesign properties so being featured in the show was very rewarding,” admits Perrudin.
While being featured on the show helped Perrudin to get his name out in Miami at the start, he kept that momentum going by going out and making connections with people in the art and design world.
“We had no connections before moving,” recalls Perrudin. “Being a painter myself, I was invited to art exhibitions and met many different people. When I was based in Miami, I never missed the art Basel event. I always balance my attention between art and design. My artistic side allowed me to take a different look at the world of design, which was very appreciated and led me to many collaborations.”
Not long after settling in Miami, Perrudin founded View Visual Art Design and opened a design showroom on the main street in the Wynwood district, the center for art and design in Miami. Perrudin created View in response to a demand he noticed in the market for artistic design that acts as both visual ambiance for interiors, as well as acoustic treatment for large environments.
He says, “The View showroom was the first space I designed to present to clients the capability of the products on a real site. There were three oversized walls and about 10 art frames, a concept I created using the same material.”
By manipulating visual and auditory elements, Perrudin’s design work is capable of creating a specific feeling within a room, something that is invaluable for a hotel that wants to present an inviting feeling to patrons or a restaurant that wants to diminish the noise and offer its guests a more intimate experience.
After designing his showroom Perrudin began reaching out specifically to hotels and restaurants so they could see his work. The response was immediately positive and soon he was being hired to design spaces all over the country, including 120 rooms for Miami’s Hotel Aloft, the interior of the high-end Asian-fusion restaurant Akoya, as well as several spaces in Detroit, Michigan.
One thing he learned along the way though, was that doing business in the U.S. was a little different than France, which meant he had to adapt his approach.
He explains, “The most important thing is working hard and smart. The main thing in the US when it comes to business, is to be focused on priorities. I learned it quickly because, here in the US, everybody has weekly goals while we are more on a monthly basis in France. That makes a big difference on the approach. You have to eliminate all the small non important details to focus on one big thing to make it. You also communicate straight away on what you are looking to accomplish instead of going step by step like we do in France.”
While the challenges of transitioning to life in a new country like the U.S. may seem daunting, if one is motivated to make the dream work, and is able to remain patient and receptive to a different way of doing things, the process will unfold with ease.
When asked about his advice to others who want to make the same move, Perrudin says, “Put everything you already know on the side, listen, learn, adapt and work hard. Once you have learned the American way, you can still bring your learnings from your past experience on top. This is what we are calling the French touch.”
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
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