Journal
/ Sep
2020

8 Questions to
Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance

Why leave France and choose Portugal?

Choosing a new country means leaving one’s comfort zone, looking at and perceiving things in a different way. I grew up in Brittany in France, was living in Paris and I was looking for a place to breath and look at the horizon, it was a time in my life where I really needed the sense of space and a place with a sense of origin. These points are necessary and inspiring for my work. In Portugal, the geographical positioning gives this opportunity, the ocean and the land.

 

I have worked a lot in my life, loving specifically my time with craftspeople, I also find industry fascinating, the whole process that involves humans. I wanted to find a place where the designing was part of the production.

 

Portugal is a country undergoing change –it feels now that it is in transition, rooted in heritage but currently in motion and this dynamic is one of its assets. It feels to me like one of the only countries that always comes back to itself. It has been anchored by necessity in certain traditions, this strong connection can still be found here. The country remains attached to a certain form of “simplicity” which, in my opinion, is essential. To choose Portugal is to take up a new approach – to get physically closer to the work of craftspeople, in their workshops.

 

It is captivating to be a foreigner in a new country it feels fresh and invigorating. Sensation created this project, the moments of excitement with explorations, like the beginning of a love story.

"Portugal is a country undergoing change –it feels now that it is in transition, rooted in heritage but currently in motion and this dynamic is one of its assets."

How important is the culture, the territory?

To become part of the territory is to seek out a culture. It means changing your reference points, showing humility, going on a journey of the senses. It is also a change of posture, to learn and (seek) to understand – to voluntarily place oneself in a more human ecosystem with this desire to deeply develop its sensitivity. Taking a distance with things, looking at a culture without going into the problems, coming at life with a fresh eye, sensations, and spontaneity. This births the project based on materiality + person + context and allows me to open myself to possibilities.

 

How would you explain a more human ecosystem?

Through simplicity, seeking simplicity and having common sense.

If you take out systems you are left with eco. In a more human ecosystem we are more in relation with who we are, being physically in the moment, having direct connections, short circuit contact, not acting as machines. Living and acting in awareness and not accepting the negative impact we have on our ecology. Design in this way doesn’t give us answers to a problem; it serves as a connection, a possibility to be positively fed by these relations, moments and experiences.

"I arrive with my knowledge but without knowledge – my history as a designer has no value for craftspeople."

Won’t your experience as a designer be destabilized?

That is precisely what I’m looking for. I arrive with my knowledge but without knowledge – my history as a designer has no value for craftspeople. The only things that count are my sensitivity, my ability to listen and the interaction itself. When in contact with these people, I come face to face with something different; I change my point of reference and am challenged by the constraints placed by the situations or people. By calling my experience into question, I become a “doer” again.

 

You’re talking about sensory exploration, as if MADE IN SITU were opening up new fields of possibility for four-handed creation?

By initiating new instances of cooperation with and amongst artisans, creating with four hands opens up fields of possibilities. The artisan is not so much the executor as an actor in the project. What I would like is to come up with a new way of conceiving the object, of designing it. Take, for instance, the ink with which I choose to draw my first sketches – its inherent inaccuracies are a door that is open to many interpretations. Really delving into the space, the context, the atmosphere of workspace, the village, it all inspires me. I am not searching out pure execution skills. The designs are born from the experience that feeds the work. As no one is asking for a specific piece from me, we can take a more artistic approach, free to explore and be inspired.

What are you looking for in this adventure?

To create differently by placing the artisan at the centre of the process – I want to support a different model, a purpose driven project. To initiate a change through healthy relationships and constant dialogues. I also hope to give more meaning and resonance to the shapes I design and make.
To achieve that, we bring together a dedicated team, engage in unexpected exchanges, set up a network of talents and adopt problems, coming a reasonable, sustainable approach. It’s an adventure, so it’s an invitation to discover, a journey to be shared with these artisans and in turn with the future owners of the collections.

 

No constraint, a direct contact to doers & materials, is MADE IN SITU a quest for freedom?

I guess it is, at some point. But this project first answers a personal wish to experience a more holistic approach to creation. Bringing together the various skills and multiplying the perspectives makes it possible to get a bird’s-eye view, to see each object in a way that is more ‘whole’ and complete. By not setting any a priori constraints, the collections become enriched by unforeseen details that we find along the way. Through MADE IN SITU, I’m looking for pluralistic creations that make sense and that, as I see it, are part of a more equitable process of creation.

"Our physical and mental creative dialog nourishes us both."

How do you feel this process is helping the craftspeople?

Helping, I’m not sure. Invigorating, yes.

Participating in their everyday movement, we push each other’s boundaries. We learn from each other. I learn from their skills and they learn from my abstraction. Our physical and mental creative dialog nourishes us both. I have come to the understanding that an artisan who is not working is an artisan dying. An artisan is fed by creating, giving their energy to making. And we are giving our energy to creating together.

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