Lunch just got special - Design Focus with Emilie Creuzieux, monbento
The classic bento box has been given a modern makeover thanks to Emilie and her team of culinary design experts at monbento hq in Clermont-Ferrand - France. To celebrate the launch of monbento with us here at Forma, we caught up with the founder and ceo of the company to talk bentos and more, in this fascinting insight into the evolution of the monbento community...
Emilie, welcome to the Forma blog, you started your professional life as a Kinesiotherapist, how did you make the shift into product design?
When I was a kinesiotherapist, I didn’t have much time for lunch and I often had to take a meal with me when visiting my patients. In 2008, I discovered the bento box through Fabien (my current business partner) and a design project he was working on. An alternative to restaurants and a dietary solution, this little Japanese box quickly proved its uses in my busy life. But the product was difficult to find in Europe, so I was forced to order my first one from an Asian site. Faced with this fact and the enthusiasm of my friends and family for this box, in March 2009 and when just 26 years old, I obtained the support of Fabien and Arnaud (web project manager) to create the monbento company.
There is of course a synergy between healthy food on the go and Kinesiotherapy (the application of scientifically based exercise principles). Promoting a healthy lifestyle in general must also be a passion?
Since childhood, I’ve always had an active lifestyle and a passion for sport, so healthy practices come quite naturally to me. And don’t forget I’m French: I’ve been made aware of the importance of homemade food from an early age. Thanks to the company, I’m able to pursue this quest for a healthy lifestyle - a healthy mind in a healthy body, to use the expression – and to share it with our ever growing monbento community.
How did the Monbento brand evolve and why the bento box?
monbento entered the market by first retailing imported products from all over the world, which led to the launch of our on-line boutique in June 2009. Very quickly our site monbento.com
made a name for itself and appeared in the headlines of the National French press scarcely a month after opening. One year later, we took the decision to launch our first line of products, focusing on convenience and style within the bento universe. There was a market to be filled as food habits across Europe and indeed the World changed. Whether to save money, or just because we all move at 100 miles an hour, more and more people are eating on the go and the demand for alternatives to mass produced convenience foods just keeps on growing.
Which product did you design first and how did you go about it?
Our first creation was the MB Original bento box - our flagship product! We consider it a fusion between the traditional Asian bento box and the European lunchbox, with a distinctive French design that combines elegance, style and simplicity.
It must have been a real challenge to get that first product developed, but incredibly exciting to see in-store for the first time?
Challenge is the right word! It wasn’t that simple to find a factory that could meet all our requirements. But we did it and it was so amazing when I saw our bento boxes in the window display of a famous Parisian department store for the first time. I was so excited that to be honest, I took a photo in front of it!
Did this spur you on to create and develop more articles? You now have 10+ collections for people to choose from?
Of course! Since the MB Original, many products have been added to the collection, especially our core range of bento boxes. And to go even further, we have focused on two new areas as identified by our monbento community:
- Outdoor: heavy-duty, insulated stainless steel products that stand up to extreme expeditions and everyday life.
- Kids: to give a helping hand to your little eaters on the go as they learn about good nutrition with personalised products that are both fun and functional.
Which item from the range can you not live without on a daily basis?
The reusable bottle MB Positive without hesitation! It stands beside me from morning till night, at the office, during my workouts - even on shopping trips!
Do you have a particular favourite?
My beloved product is for sure the MB Original. It’s kind of our “baby”! Since the very beginning it has been our best seller and the product that represents monbento and our philosophy to eat well wherever we want.
How do you see the future of healthy food on the go evolving?
It has already evolved a lot these last few years, particularly with the launch - and success - of many new catering concepts. In my opinion, the future will be linked to individual nutritional support: the analysis and coaching of each person’s unique food habits, taking into account their metabolism, family assets, sporting activity and goals.
If you could design anything in the world what would it be?
A solution for permanent access to drinking water wherever needed.
Who are your design icons?
More than icons, at monbento, we love a style: Scandinavian design. And especially its association with convenience and ease.