What would you make for the writer who has most influenced your life? The question has been asked of 50 of the world's best-known designers, from the couturiers Christian Lacroix and Paul Smith to the architect India Mahdavi.
Their imaginary creations for authors including Haruki Murakami and Ian Fleming will be shown in a series of exhibitions across Paris until September, and have been collated in Design et Littérature: Une Liaison Inspiré to be published this week.
The architect and designer Claudio Colucci conceived a lounge sofa made from carbon fibre for the James Bond writer Ian Fleming. "I have always liked the fantasy element in design," he said. "Too much function bores me. I thought of creating an amphibious car, but that already exists, so I designed a lounge-sofa for drinking champagne, for two, of course."
The fashion designer Christian Lacroix imagined a mid-20th Century wrought-iron chair for the French novelist, Patrick Modiano. Lacroix said: "I like his form of melancholy; like him, I'm nostalgic."
British designer Paul Smith has sketched a 19th-century-inspired chair, customised with old material, for lyric writer Patti Smith, his "favourite rock literary icon" and modern "capturer of emotions".
The architect India Mahdavi designed a cat-shaped sofa in homage to Japanese author Haruki Murakami. Mahdavi, who chose a cat because the animal appears throughout Murakami's work, said that when she was introduced to the novelist, "it was like entering someone's dream, in a universe where fantasy and reality are mixed".
The writer Esther Henwood said she thought of the idea for the series of exhibitions and the book because of her interest in the relationship between the arts. "The different art forms – music, design, literature, fashion – are seen as being separate," she said. "Yet they are interrelated ...
"All the designers told me how much they love and are influenced by literature in all their work, even if it is not apparent." She said she was so "delighted" by the responses that she told design houses limited editions of the works should be created.
"We are holding a series of exhibitions across Paris," she said. "Some of the works have been imagined for great literary figures, such as Proust, Tolstoy and Flaubert. Others were conceived for contemporary writers who will have the chance to see the designs that have been imagined."