An Interview with Cece De La Montagne, Founder of the ATELIER YUL:

Well designed products are simply Solutions to our problems & inconveniences. These products are focused & are honest. The designers of these products have experienced what their users experience and hence, are able to figure out solutions for the inconveniences and the issues. Such products are also trustworthy.

The Atelier YUL: provides solutions (through it’s products) to an issue faced by creators around the world.



Our story began in 2015 with 29-year-old architect Cece‘s need for a functional yet elegant way to transport large-format drawings without causing creases or folds. Her pared-down solution, Enveloppe, evolved into a series of practical accessories that reflect a quiet ingenuity through size, structure, and versatility. 

Documents, tools, portfolios, laptops, tablets & mobiles are something that every designer, architect & student has on them for a good part of their day. Moving around can become a challenge in itself. The Atelier YUL: co-founder Cece de la Montagne being an architect has faced these issues. She took the initiative and has used the process of design to find solutions to these issues.

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..The idea came out of a personal frustration and need that I had while working in the field of architecture. I often have to carry odd-shaped objects and prints to client meetings that rarely fit in traditional bags..– Cece.

Today, in this exclusive interview with co-founder Cece, we have the opportunity to understand this brand through it’s creator & see the part that Design plays in this venture. Also, She shares her views on Design, Entrepreneurship & the Industry.

Can you please tell us a bit about your Background ?

I’ve always loved to draw and to make things ever since I was little. My interest in art was complemented by an aptitude in math, so my passion for architecture came naturally.
I’ve studied and practiced architecture for the past 10 years, both in Montreal where I was born and New York where I currently practice. An architectural education is quite well-rounded and it encouraged me to explore ‘making’ with different types of media and across the multiple fields of design and art.

Where did you get the idea or the inspiration for The Atelier YUL: ?

The idea came out of a personal frustration and need that I had while working in the field of architecture. I often have to carry odd-shaped objects and prints to client meetings that rarely fit in traditional bags. I wanted something that matched my minimal style and reflected the love I put into the work. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, and decided to make it for myself.

Were you always interested in Design ?

I decided to be an architect when I was 8 years old, mainly driven by a simple/naive wish that I could bring places to life from my imagination.

What is your Definition of Design ?

Design is a form of creative thinking that allows us to solve problems guided by imagination and information.

Who is your target user ?

Anyone in the creative field, from designers, architects to photographers to painters, and beyond.

What are the challenges do you face being the founder & CEO of a Creative Business And being a practising architect at the same time ?

My work with YUL: beautifully complements my professional architectural work. Since the core of my design philosophy remains the same at both scales, it’s refreshing to jump back and forth from the large-scale of a building to the intimate scale of a bag. One inspires the other and allows me to sharpen and refine my process. Of course the challenge is I often wish there were more hours in a day!

We strongly believe that Architecture is a Part of Design, a Sub category – Do you agree ? What are your thoughts ?

I agree with this, although I think that definitions can be unnecessarily restrictive. I understand how they are needed when speaking of a work, but I personally try not to think too much of what category our work or what we’re doing falls into. I think it can hurt the design process.

What is your Design Process ?

My design process is guided on one hand by intuition and play, and on the other, by rigorous research and work. It always starts with a series of questions, hypotheses, and (if I’m lucky) a half-formulated vision. I then delve into research, sketching, and making models. I’m very disciplined but also find that inspiration usually comes from the most unexpected places, so I try not to stay stuck to my chair. I also always feel that inevitable and much-dreaded roadblock/dead-end at some point in the process—where it feels like the world is coming to an end because you are completely stuck. But emerging from that is the best part of the process, since that difficulty usually lays fertile ground for good ideas.

How essential would You say is Sketching as a tool & means of Communication for a Designer. – Do you carry a Sketchbook ?

Quintessential. Sketching is a way of observing, communicating, and, turning thoughts into designs and made objects. I communicate most of my ideas via my Moleskine notebook (which follows me everywhere!).

What are the Similarities & Dissimilarities between the Challenges you face in a Design/ Architecture School & That in the Industry ?

The biggest challenge that I face in the industry is not having enough time to develop a concept before it needs to be formalized and visualized. That’s a luxury that one has in Architecture School and I miss it constantly.

What is The AtelierYUL:‘s Design philosophy ?

YUL:’s design philosophy has Vitruvius’ principles as its foundation. I seek a harmonious balance between strength, utility, and beauty; a rigorous search for the most essential expression of an object and its function, which is the source of its beauty.

It is true that every creation (or Design), has the characteristics of its Creator or Designer – how does this Apply to You & The Atelier YUL: ?

I don’t think that every creation necessarily has the “characteristics” of the creator/designer, but I do believe that every creation embodies the values of its creator/designer.

How Important would you say is Design for our World ?

As I mentioned above, Design is essential to the world because it is a form of creative thinking that allows us to solve problems guided by imagination and information. Looking at all scales of problems from a creative angle generates truly innovative solutions in all fields.

A product (it can also be from Architecture) that you believe is a good example of Design.

I think that Peter Zumthor’s Bruder Klaus Field Chapel is an incredible example of design and architecture. It uses a common material (concrete) in a very unexpected way, creating a profound experience that is further elevated through the building’s shape and play with light. The design is rooted in its context (it was even built by the local farmers) that it looks like it is undeniably contemporary while feeling like it could have been there for hundreds of years.

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The best Piece of Advice you have ever got & would like to share with aspiring designers, student & amateur professionals out there.

Be obsessed! Pick something that intrigues you and don’t be afraid to become obsessed. Unwavering passion and focus is what leads to great things.

This piece of advice was given to me by my most influential architecture professor/mentor, and I truly live by it.


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