From June 23rd to August 31st, I’ll be taking workshops in Domaine de Boisbuchet with some of the best designers and architects of the moment. It’s important for me to explain how this was made possible so that other people can learn from my experience. It is also a habit I’m trying to take to always share my process with other Makers that could be inspired by my projects.
So here is how my odyssey starts:
Summer 2011, I’m back from a year of product design at ENSCI les ateliers, in Paris. I’m gardening and brainstorming at the same time. I needed to find a subject for my graduation project. I list my favourite fields of design : DIY, upcycling, digital manufacturing, branding…
Staring at my bucket full of weeds and dirt, I realise that, maybe, I can merge all these themes into one.
Project RE_ was born : DIY in the digital age.
I started in September with simple DIY projects using common objects such as pencils, forks, bottles and basketballs. They had an unexpected success and were published in FastCo and Core77. During this experimentation phase, I wrote to Instructables (a great DIY website), to ask if they could give me feedback on my project. Instead of that, they invited me to become an artist in residence in their San Francisco office. It was the perfect timing with the student strike that moved all of Quebec’s institutions this same year. I then left Montreal for San Francisco, with my school’s director benediction. Thanks Phillipe Lalande. At Instructables, I met the staff. Some of the most creative, crazy and clever people I have ever met. They didn’t describe themselves as «designers» or «creatives»; they just had a lot of imagination and the right tools to make their ideas real. On my desk, a 3D printer was waiting for me. Just for me. During my stay, I rarely left the office. I had the key and came every weekend to work on the little 3D printer, laser cutter and tools.
A next step of Project RE_ was realised in San Francisco, the one I imagined while gardening 6 months earlier.
I continued my collection of open source 3D printed objects in Montreal, using the same orange printer that Instructables accepted to lend me. Since it wasn’t pure industrial design, the project got few attention during the final exhibition, but I was still very proud.
Our job as designers is evolving because of affordable 3D printing. A new form of commerce is emerging.
A few weeks later, Project RE_ was selected runner up for the Core77 award, an American reference in Industrial design.
I spent the summer working for a new and talented design studio called Dikini. We had some interesting clients and great furniture designs. I was satisfied by the look of the projects, but something was left empty. I was craving for material, tools, manipulation, experimentation and all I had at the end of the summer was beautiful renderings, not even made by me.
I had a hobby on the side : A collection of 3D printed lamps for my living room. Even after I left my apartment to sleep on a friend’s couch, I kept designing them. It made me feel productive and useful… even if nobody was actually using them.
At the end of the summer 2012 was organised Montreal’s first mini Maker Faire at the Olympic stadium. They gave me a table and I offered to represent Instructables with my 3D printing projects. That’s where I met Bertier Luyt, a French maker with great ambition. One of them was to bring Maker Faire to France (Saint-Malo mini Maker Faire is planned for October 11-12). An other one of his ideas was to import the concept of TechShop in a slightly smaller size (kind of a FabLab for professionals). He called it “le FabShop”. I moved to France in september and started the painful process of filling a work visa. I was going to be le FabShop’s first employee. At the same moment, I got invited in London by Be Open for an award ceremony at the 100% design. Project RE_ was finalist. I didn’t even remember subscribing to this competition, but I was very excited to travel to London for the first time.
Be Open award
*Never take the plane from Paris to London: take the train.
I didn’t expect my project to win since some of the other finalists were simply amazing… but it did. Patricia Urquiola, a great designer and a great woman gave me the prize in person as president of the jury. The coincidence made me smile since I had just spent a whole summer looking at her furniture for inspiration.
When the journalists asked me what I would do with my 15 000€ grant, I didn’t hesitate and answered “Domaine de Boisbuchet workshops”. I had some great memories of a class I took there in 2009 with the British designer Max Lamb. The result of the workshop was quite a draft (one week is short), but I enjoyed learning from another designer’s process and aesthetic.
le FabShop sponsored an upcycling event called Lounge Share at ENSCI les Ateliers in november 2012. Somebody had to supervise the machines so I decided to join the weekend as a participant. I designed a floor lamp using fire extinguishers and plumbings. I called it Achille le Grand, my tribute to Castiglioni. The lamp (and its little sister made from the left over) won first price. 3D printing was, once again, very useful to connect these different standards together.
Just before christmass, I decided to ad my 3D printed lamps on my online portfolio. The response was automatic. They got published by WIRED, Contemporist, designboom, FastCo and… I had a great holiday.
In February, I turned IKEA stools into a Draisienne and a Sled with the help of Andreas Bhend. Same instant success. I realised that my present was linked with applied use for 3D printing and decided to keep surfing on this growing wave.
When the staff from Domaine de Boisbuchet sent me the list of designers giving workshops this summer, Patricia Urquiola was top of the list. Great coincidence.
Le FabShop sent two MakerBot 3D printers to Boisbuchet so I can continue my experimentations. I’m curious to see what will come out of this unusual mix of high tech and low tech.