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Joint Forces: With a bent for creative collaboration, Oui Design continues to inspire innovative projects between American and French designers and manufacturers.

Originally launched in 2016, the cultural program Oui Design returns to New York for its third edition this spring with new collaborations at the Noguchi Museum in Queens and WantedDesign in Brooklyn. A celebration of the mutual affinity in the field of design among the respective cultures of France and the United States, the program is a concerted effort between the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States and a network of respective local partners involving key players in design.

With a dynamic series of events taking place throughout New York during NYCxDESIGN, the program presents cultural collaborations, bringing works that exemplify savoir faire from both sides of the Atlantic. WantedDesign's robust roster of programming this year includes Camille Walala's biggest-ever commission in New York, a bold, monolithic mural on the facade at the fair's home in Sunset Park's Industry City; a reboot of Frangois Azambourg's groundbreaking Douglas vase, conceived with the French glass research center CIAV, designer Leo Tecosky, and the Brooklyn Glass team; and Couleur, a showcase of three emerging French designers' use and treatment of color. To shed light on sustainable development, WantedDesign and Oui Design will also present an exhibition of works by students from EnsAD School in Paris focused on bamboo.

Also this year, the Noguchi Museum is partnering again with Oui Design, through a duo exhibition showcasing Isamu Noguchi's Akari light sculptures, along with a selection of 26 Akari-inspired lamp designs created under the leadership of Valerie Maltaverne's Ymer&Malta studio. And a touring exhibition features 40 masterpieces of the 21st century in poetic scenography by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac at ICFF.

The 10th Anniversary of the Douglas Vase with Francois Azambourg

In 2007, a dialogue between Clichy-based designer Frangois Azambourg and the French glass research center CIAV, or Centre International dArt Verrier, in Meisenthal, France, produced an extraordinary objet d'art: the Douglas vase. Made through the unusual process of blowing molten glass between two raw planks of Douglas pine, the vase emerged from the wood amid smoke and sparks, imprinted with the memory of the tree--grooves, veins, knots, and all.

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Douglas vase, Azambourg and the artisanal glassblowers of CIAV created new shapes and scales for the Douglas series, launching them at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris before bringing them to WantedDesign Brooklyn. On view from May 19 through May 22 will be the pieces, their blueprints, and the new works from the Douglas series, made in collaboration with designer Leo Tecosky and the Brooklyn Glass team. Here, Azambourg reflects on his groundbreaking design.

What was the significance of Douglas wood? Was there something about the tree itself that initially caught your interest?

Our first attempt was in beech, and then in Douglas, because its grains are clearer and more pronounced than other species. There is no real precedent for this piece, but my preoccupation with the mold is recurrent in my work, as you can see with the Pack chair.

I know that you completed this as part of your research at CIAV. Can you speak a bit to the trial and error that went into this process, and the role that your collaborators at CIAV played In its conception?

The human scale of the CIAV really is an advantage. It allows various attempts in real time and to adjust the conception with the glassblowers. In ten years, we did many various projects and pieces. It really is a successful and easy collaboration.

Tell us about working with the Brooklyn Glass team and how their style might differ from your collaborators in Europe. Did you think they'll have a different way of working that will influence the outcome?

The interesting part is the transfer of knowledge and know-how. I hope Brooklyn Glass blowers will come to CIAV. Collaboration with the glassblowers was key for this initial project, in the design and in the definition of the pieces. It definitely brings new elements to my practice.

Could you compare the 2018 Douglas glass pieces to the originals? How do they differ, and could you describe the process? Was this process easier than the first time?

The 2018 Douglas is a work on the plastic shape of the pieces when they just came out from the mold. Douglas mainly is a process of production, so we did many variations based on the same process: new shapes, new colors, and new sizes. It is neither easier nor more complicated.

The Designers of "Couleur"

Where the slightest nuance can redefine our mood, color is the language with which we perceive our world. From May 17 through 21, WantedDesign Brooklyn presents "Couleur," an exhibition curated by Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat. "Our role as curators in the Oui Design program was to continue to bring creative French talents in New York and to initiate more transatlantic creative exchanges," say Hainaut and Pijoulat. In doing so, the exhibit, designed by Eve Marine Basuyaux, celebrates the many pigments that shape our everyday lives with the vibrant and colorful works of three emerging French designers: Julie Richoz, lonna Vautrin, and Pernelle Poyet.


Having operated her own Paris studio since 2012 (the same year she was awarded the Grand Prix Design Parade) the French-Swiss designer completed a residency at the prestigious CIRVA, the International Center for Glass and Plastic Arts in Marseille where she produced a series of transparentvessels in pronounced blocks of color in various combinations. "I superimposed the glasses in layers to obtain deep and nuanced colors," Richoz says. "I love the way the glass encloses and materializes the light: The light traveling through these layers then reflects the colors of the glasses, sharpens their edges, and highlights their contours." Also on display will be Richoz's recent projects for La Manufacture Cogolin, Alessi, and Louis Poulsen.


For her 2016 graduate project, Alphabet, Pernelle Poyet took the aesthetic alphabet of the late, great Ettore Sottsass and created her own language, garnering herself the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Prize of Villa Noailles's prestigious Design Parade in Hyeres, France. Shortly afterward, Villa Noailles led her to a residency in both Sevres Cite de la Ceramique and CIRVA (International Research Center on Glass and Visual Arts). On view will be a series of "vase bouquets," produced with CIRVA, created from glass vases, orbs, and blocks that play on gradients of colors.


lonna Vautrin worked for such greats as George J. Sowden and the Bouroullec brothers before opening her own Paris studio in 2010, shortly after winning the mayor's Grand prixde la creation. In Couleur, a selection of recent works includes Binic, a table lamp designed for Foscarini named for the lighthouse on the coast of Brittany. Composed simply of two intersecting conical shapes, its friendly demeanor exudes a joy amplified by its brilliant color options: white, pink, aquamarine, blue, yellow, and anthracite. Her piecesfor Eno Studio, Sancal, Moustache, and Elements Optimal will also be shown.

Camille Walala at Industry City

At WantedDesign's Brooklyn outpost, Oui Design brings support to Industry City in commissioning Camile Walala to brighten up the surroundings with one of her signature graphic murals. Drawing on a mixed bag of influences, including African tribal art, De Stijl, Pop Art, and Memphis design--all of which are partial to bold colors--Walala will transform a prominent but neglected building with a permanent seven-story mural--her largest commission to date. "The Camille Walala mural and the Couleur exhibit are somehow connected," say WantedDesign cofounders Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat. "Interestingly enough, we did not work on these two projects simultaneously, though it now seems like we've created a pattern: showcasing French creative women, and highlighting their relation to color." The piece is produced with French paint, using a custom color palette from Ressource. Inspired by the architecture itself, the mural plays with the repetition of windows. "The site is bathed in the most beautiful colors at sunset, which has inspired my palette for the project," Walala says.

--Alexandra Alexa

YMER&MALTA at the Noguchi Museum

When the late Isamu Noguchi began sculpting lanterns from paper in 1951, he called them Akari, the Japanese word for light. The word conveys a dual meaning, evoking both Akari's luminousness and seeming weightlessness, much as the lights merge a duality of traditions, uniting craft with technology through the simple act of inserting an electrical bulb into a form usually illuminated by candlelight.

"The light of Akari is like the light of the sun filtered through the paper of shoji," Noguchi once said. "The harshness of electricity is thus transformed through the magic of paper back to the light of our origin--the sun--so that its warmth may continue to fill our rooms at night."

Decades later, the Noguchi Museum's exhibition "Akari Unfolded: A Collection by YMER&MALTA," on view through January 27, 2019, honors the spirit of Noguchi's iconic light designs with the introduction of 26 new designs that likewise combine craft traditions with contemporary sensibilities. YMER&MALTA founder Valerie Maltaverne, an expert in historic French savoirfaire, worked with six designers in an array of materials: linen, metal, resin, Plexiglas, concrete, and paper.

"She felt that she and her designers could do something meaningful, technically and aesthetically, pushing Akari values and principles into the age of LED," says Noguchi Museum senior curator Dakin Hart. In addition to being the preeminent expert in the centuries-old traditions of the luxuriously handmade, Maltaverne also possesses a keen sense for contemporary taste and an appetite for new technologies. Together, she and the six designers--Sebastian Bergne, Stephen Burks, Oceane Delain, Benjamin Graindorge, Sylvain Rieu-Piquet, and the firm Nendo--entered a trial-and-error process of prototyping and material experimentation.

Each work in the resulting exhibition resonates with Noguchi's legacy in a variety of ways, in his architectonics, his reverence for nature, or, as Hart puts it, "Noguchi's expansive notion of sculpture." Designer Benjamin Graindorge's black tubular steel "edaLight," for example, formally merges the natural world with the technological one, resembling at once a "supersized circuit board and a climbing vine," according to Hart, "as if a giant, bioluminescent, unobtanium-powered leaf had fallen to Earth from a tree on Pandora. "EtaLight" is cosmically forward-looking and fundamentally, serenely biomorphic. It's an instant classic."

For Maltaverne, creating new works in Noguchi's legacy was an honor. "I've known Noguchi through the Akari lamps, which have followed me in my different homes," she says. "Akari is a strong word that defines the spirit of this collection, where the importance of the light itself comes before the object that holds it. Our lamps must be the souls of the room they're in, capable of transforming the environment."

Oceane Delain

Originallyfrom Bayeux, France, Oceane Delain specializes in digital fabrication, working principally forthe Paris-based design studioTech Shop. For "Akari Unfolded," she applied her digital know-howtothe production of "Belle de Jour" and "Belle de Nuit," two lamps inspired by images of rock formations Valerie Maltaverne photographed during a trip to Corsica. "When I showed herthe pictures, Oceane made several drawings and, as she is a very practical designer, we entered in an extensive 3D-printing and paper laser-cutting prototyping process until we achieved the final design," says Maltaverne. The result is one in linen, the French equivalent to Japan's bamboo, and another in ceramic.

EnsAD's Bamboo for Paris

At Domaine de Boisbuchet, a research and design center in the southwest of France, 10 current EnsAD students participated in a workshop focused on the potential of bamboo in design, the results of which will be on view as part of the Conscious Design showcase at WantedDesign Brooklyn. The students explored the expressive and structural potential of bamboo as a material, the types of objects it's suited for, and the possibility of industrial applications that might have economic and ecological benefits.

Alexis Fiony and Marie Piplard's "O-de," a rainwater collection device designed for urban balconies, is a standout. Bamboo slats arranged in the form of a tree channel raindrops into a glass vessel. It presents a simple ritual for gathering rain and reusing it in the house, and in the process, it reconnects users to the idea that protecting the environment is a shared responsibility that starts with rethinking our daily habits.--A.A.

Icons of French Design at ICFF

In partnership with Institut Francais-Paris, VIA is organizing a traveling exhibition, titled "NO TASTE FOR BAD TASTE so Starck, so le French Design." The presentation aims to reveal the DNA of French design by bringing together the most iconic pieces of its history. Forty experts working in various design-related fields were brought together to select 10 core values of 21st-century French design and identify their favorite examples of each. The show includes works by Philippe Starck, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Ligne Roset, Fermob, and Hermes. Its original sceneography is designed by famous French designe Jean-Charles de Castelbajac.--A.A.


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Title Annotation:PARTNERSHIP
Author:Zara, Janelle
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:May 1, 2018
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