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Design / Portraits / A + A Cooren, between technique and poetry

A + A Cooren, between technique and poetry

At the Carpenters Workshop Gallery, rue de la Verrerie in Paris, the exhibition of “Tiss-Tiss, Flexible Rigidity” is visible until October 15, 2021. The creations of A + A Cooren are confronted with the textile creations of Simone Prouvé, the daughter of Jean Prouvé, in a sensitive and obvious dialogue which puts the work of the hand at the heart of their concerns. At the Mobilier National, during Paris Design Week, they benefited from a first unparalleled visibility of their armchairs and sofa “In a Cloud of Pixels”, dressed in a digital textile creation by Miguel Chevalier. A look back at a duo of designers who, since the creation of their studio in 1999, have worked on interior design projects, products, furniture design as well as scenographies for Shiseido, Artemide, ClassiCon, L ‘ Oréal, Cartier, but also the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres, Yamagiwa, Saint Louis, Boffi Bains, Vertigo Bird, Noma …

Aki and Arnaud Cooren, identified under the studio A + A Cooren, met at the Ecole Camondo. She, Japanese, was born in Paris, grew up in Tokyo, a bit in the United States and came to study in Paris where she met Arnaud. He fled France after his second to do his artistic humanities in Saint-Luc, La Cambre and finally integrate Camondo, at the time the only school that offered a double course: “At La Cambre, we did a lot of workshops. , many paintings, large formats, anamorphoses in relation to the space and the workshop in which I participated was called “Urban and rural spaces light color”. People reflected on our environment, space, light and everything that was sensitive. It aroused my curiosity about space, lots of other things and I wanted to work on the object and on what an object wanted to say or not to say. “

ClassiCon, console Tadaima, création A+A Cooren, 2017 © Thomas Biswanger

Rencontre… du textile et du métal

When they meet with Aki, they already have a common background and can dialogue: Aki, trained in intensity and Arnaud with a background of reflection on the subject, the context and the meaning. Together, they see things and move forward. “We both grew up in creative families,” says Aki. My father created a textile in Japan, he learned to weave, to dye on silk. He became with my mother a creator of silver jewelry, in a principle of lost wax manufacturing. He makes models of everything, by hand, with amazing ease. He masters Art Nouveau. He knows how to make Guimard by hand, with his head. But also contemporary creations … With him, a toy was never broken, he repaired it immediately. My mother was weaving. She had imported a loom from Scandinavia to Japan in the early 1970s. It was extremely rare. And my grandmother, who was from a large family, had kimonos for her whole life with the patterns reserved for certain ages, hyper codified. I grew up with this textile code around me and the smell of metal… It’s all my childhood. ”

Textiles and metal have always been part of their universe. Since 1999, when their studio was created, they have been reflecting on the same subject, the combination of textiles and metal.

Workshop Gallery, Flexible Rigidity, Simone Prouvé & Aki+Arnaud Cooren © Courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

“What we like is this kind of flexibility and fragility of the fabric. It can be super soft but also super hard, regular and at the same time irregular. It’s the hand-human side of the fabric that we love. There is a whole instantaneity that we saw in doing the work that we are trying to transmit when we make Ishigaki lamps, for example. The lamps are big, but at the same time they hold. There is a technical game, a poetic game and we try to ensure that one does not dominate the other. “

En complémentarité

They capture the moment the fabric arises and the quality details certify the workmanship of the hand. These are snapshot choices to be taken as they come. For them, accidents are assets. When the foundry folks explain how the accident happened and how it could have been avoided, the coordination is superb and everyone in the production line is happy to deliver such a product. “The Tiss-Tiss table is 2.80m but it can be worn for two. It is made of aluminum with textile reliefs. For the Carpenters Workshop Gallery workshop, assembly was light and fast. All modules traveled flat. And it shows on the video of the assembly. ”

They both claim each other, each of their own planet, revolving around each other with their quality and strength, male and female associated, each with their education. “French-style education helps you develop your idea a lot more. In Japan, you must not go outside the diagram. You learn everything by heart and without understanding what you are learning. Two people do not see in the same way. This leaves the field free to the imagination of the other and our products are like toys for adults. When we want our objects to go outside… we develop varnishes that allow them to go outside. We test them ourselves, we check everything. This winter, we left our furniture outside to see the variations, to weaken them, scorch them, burn them… it looks fragile but it is not at all. It is life-proof. “

© Courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

La création numérique

They made the big difference at Mobilier National with Miguel Chevalier, who works on digital, and Simone Prouvé who has been working intuitively by hand for a very long time. They realized their closeness to Simone Prouvé when they saw her approach to the photo. They photograph the same accumulations like children left to play with a camera. “Beauty is all around us. What we want to show people is that if you change your point of view, the beauty is there. But expressing oneself in an environment that is part of the industry when the industry is dying is complicated. In the workshop of the Carpenters Workshop Gallery, the craftsmen were very attentive to what I wanted and I did not know what they could. Their field of possibilities was so wide. The same with the Mobilier national. It finally fell at the same time, but it took us six years to develop the digital set, a complete set developed between artists and designers and craftsmen from Savonnerie or ARC. Miguel had drawings, we discussed them, we proposed a set on which his drawings could be applied. We worked on the furniture, we talked about comfort, redesigned the seats. There was plenty of back and forth in all directions. So we come up with something that makes sense. We are well seated there. There is only one set and the whole question is: will French publishers feel able to edit this piece? Even before manufacturing, at the Mobilier National, they think about restoration. So, there it is very simple, the fabric covering is removable, washable and repositioned. (It may seem complicated to understand). In both cases, we tried to do things that would last. ”

Mobilier national, « Dans un nuage de pixels », création Miguel Chevalier & A+A Cooren, Paris Design Week 2021© Thibaut Chapotot

The Liliane Bettencourt Prize for hand intelligence, won in 2017 in the Dialogues category with founder David de Gourcuff, enabled them to give visibility to their Tiss-Tiss project. A conjunction of positive stars in a country where copyright is strongly protected and where the designer finds a place whatever he does, as a creator or entrepreneur. “For 20 years we have managed to live / survive our profession” and it is an example for the younger generations.

Bénédicte Duhalde

Scénographie, Galerie Sèvres- Cité de la céramique, A+A Cooren, 2013© Lorenz Cugini
Noma Editions, chaise SEN ( 93,7% de matière recyclée), création A+A Cooren, © Studio Swissmiss