A new program pioneered by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy is linking designers and institutions across France and the U.S. In addition to fostering collaborations between designers, artisans, curators, inventors, researchers, teachers, students and manufacturers, the program, Oui Design, is bringing French designers to New York, Boston, Chicago and Miami this year and next, to share their work via exhibitions, talks, workshops, debates, residencies and more.
“Raccoon,” by Malika Favre for “Le bestiaire”; courtesy Ionna Vautrin
Oui Design officially launched last month with designer Ionna Vautrin’s “Le bestiaire,” an exhibition of surreal animal costumes, at the FIAF Gallery in New York, as part of the Tilt Kids Festival co-presented by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF). (That exhibit will next move to the French Cultural Center of Boston on April 6.) Next, it will debut a series of projects at WantedDesign during NYCxDESIGN, from May 3 to 17. That series will include “Transatlantic Creative Exchange,” an exhibit of French-American pairs, including a designer and a manufacturer, such as Ligne Roset with U.S. designer Marc Thorpe; and Centre international de recherche sur le verre et les arts plastiques (CIRVA) with U.S.-based designer Jonah Takagi. “We Trust in Wood,” is an exhibit by French designer Matali Crasset and art center Vent des Forêts. Other programs include student-centered workshops presented for American students by top French design schools the École nationale supérieure de création industrielle (ENSCI–Les Ateliers).
Work from designer-manufacturer pairs: CIAV, courtesy Guy Rebmeister; CIRVA, courtesy CIRVA; Sketch, "Vol de Nuit," courtesy Marc Thorpe for Ligne Roset
“The energy around design in New York City is undeniable,” says Thomas Michelon, deputy cultural counselor of the French Embassy in the U.S. “The city has always attracted creative people by virtue of its excellent museums, galleries, artist communities, and design fairs. In France, creative industries like design are integral to French life. They are as much a part of our national heritage as they are key players in our economy. Excellent design schools and a longstanding tradition of decorative arts have allowed France to cultivate a rich and varied design legacy. As a result, many French designers and companies from the cultural and creative sector have become global leaders in their field, contributing to the vitality of France’s economy. Our goal with Oui Design is to showcase this artistic excellence on an international stage, and sow seeds for an even deeper international collaboration.”