Author: Andreea Hirica
“The artisans are like alchemists: they have a unique ability of transcending the matter, of going deep into the research and experimentation. They are able to envision something within their mind and then bring it into reality with their hands and refine it up to several degrees of perfection. They could spend even half an year only working on one single piece. “(Thierry Moysset, General manager, Forge de Laguiole and of the French Cutlery)
“The most important in the manufacturing and crafts industries nowadays, is being able to create a market that generates business and employment within one’s region and more importantly that generates trades and crafts. So that when our people come to work in the morning they can proudly say to their kids not that they are going to the factory but that they have a craft: I am a fitter, I am a blacksmith, I am a polisher, I am a glass maker. Something that he can be proud of.” (Thierry Moysset)
“Raw material makes one humble. Wood, for instance, makes one humble because wood stands up for itself” (Francis et Andre Cat-Berro, cabinetmaker Carpenters).
A great craftsman is the one that is able to save the bad designed projects. "In order to train someone into one’s craft, the trainee must love that craft. If the person doesn’t love what they are doing, all effort is useless. How do we know when one loves one’s work? By the look, by the touch, by the gestures. In craftsmanship, as in life, just scratching the surface of one’s work is not enough; the deeper one goes into his, hers, professional journey the more uniquely valuable the person becomes” (Alain Colombat, polisher).
Designers and Artisans. The Art of Expanding Linear Math
"As a Designer, my role is to continue to enchant the world; it’s my job to keep bringing in magic and poetry". (Guillaume Bardet, Designer).
"The collaboration between designers and craftsmen is an art in itself: the art of mastering cultural clashes in which each of the two worlds needs to be right, but more importantly, prove to the other side that what they think as foolish and impossible is actually possible. This brings forth a kind of emulation between the two that usually makes linear math like one plus one to expand and equal way beyond two.” (René-Jacques Mayer, Creative and Production Director, Manufacture de Sèvres).
"The way we select our designers is by their affinity with the material. Then, by their exposure and understanding of the usage habits; since we are creating objects not necessarily that are to be looked at, but more importantly to be used. (Hélène Dubrule, DG Hermès Maison)."
This insightful outlook into the French Artisans and their life with the Designers has been made possible through the exhibition “Le Dessein du geste. Savoir-fair et Design Français” assembled at Hotel de Ville, Paris, during 11.09 – 10.10.2012. The above interviews excerpts are selections from the documentary broadcast during the exhibition. Photos: Sophie Zenon