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French Presidency of the European Council: committed scenography by Adeline Rispal

Since the beginning of January, France has taken over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union until June. It was the architect and scenographer Adeline Rispal who won the competition for the scenography of this mission, for a project that she co-constructed with the studio SI / Studio Irrésistibles, around the theme “L’Etoffe de l’ Europa”. In “common thread”, a work of “data design” to embody a network of nations.

This is not the first French mandate, but it is the first time that a competition has been organized for the development of the 8 spaces of the Council of the European Union. An important “showcase” of the tone desired by the government (expressed by the motto “Relaunch – Power – Belonging”), which will certainly not be seen by the general public, but will be the daily working environment for negotiators.
“In the DNA of our studio, we want to show complexity rather than avoid it” , says Adeline Rispal, and this is clearly what emerges from this presentation. In connection with the Studio Irresistible and with its team, she designed a scenography that spins the metaphor of weaving, of the network, of construction by presenting masterful works. Thus, in the atrium, unfold the “Wings”, taking up a pattern built around the interweaving of the different 27 flags and 37 colors of the 27 representatives.

"The Fabric of Europe": Installation "Les Ailes" in the Atrium Justus Lipsus
Photo Luc Boegly
Photo Luc Boegly

Data design at the Europa Forum


In the second building, at the Europa Forum – where the press conferences are held in particular – Studio Irrésistible worked on a fresco effectively symbolizing the stages of integration in European construction: using the same data, they designed a framework that translates chronologically the main stages. Each country takes the form of a ribbon, which come together to design the warp thread, and present – again – the construction of Europe in the form of a weave. The result is amazing: this masterful fresco makes visible the meshes, inter-State relations (even Brexit, with the interruption of the “ribbon” of Great Britain), the 154 terms of office, in a graphic summary of data which translates this flow of information and of inter-exchanges. A way of staging both belonging to this “common stuff”, without excessive standardization. In short, as Eva Nguyen Binh, President of the Institut français, pointed out at the inauguration, “a staging of the European motto: unite in diversity”.

"The Fabric of Europe" - ITM- Forum Europea: data-weaving fresco of European construction
Photo Luc Boegly
Photo Luc Boegly

A scenography even in the elevators


As Hervé Lemoine, director of Mobilier national and also president of the competition jury, points out: “What seduced us in Adeline Rispal’s proposal was its positive and clearly European dimension. In the approach, it is also a question of everyone being able to appropriate this vision. For the first time invested in a scenography, the elevators each take up a variation of this graphic version each in a different version.

Cladding of lift cabins © ATELIERS ADELINE RISPAL - STUDIO IRRESISTIBLE - Photo Luc Boegly

Intersection(s) in the offices of the Presidency


The theme of weaving is also continued in the office of the Presidency, the adjoining rooms and in the negotiation rooms, with the presence of screens by Jeanne Goutelle. Designed especially for the occasion, the line is called “Intersection(s)”: another way of symbolizing the weaving of links, while taking up a variation of blue, white and red ribbons. In these very austere spaces, these screens, which when lit, cast the shadow of their patterns on the walls, reinforce an atmosphere calm with soothing tones: they surround sets from the Mobilier national: the Hémicycle collection designed by Philippe Nigro and a new co-edition between the institution and Ligne Roset, as well as coffee tables designed by Olivier Gagnière.

Offices of the Presidency - Screens "Intersection(s)" by Jeanne Goutelle
Photo Luc Boegly
Negotiation offices: window dressing with tricolor weaving, signature of the French presidency - SGPFUE ©ATELIERS ADELINE RISPAL - STUDIO IRRESISTIBLE
Photo Luc Boegly

A complex specification


The jury decided in the spring of 2021, so the project was built in eight months. With very constrained specifications: spaces of extremely varied sizes, very few possibilities of intervening on the structures, safety conditions, deadlines… Indeed, the team had three days to set everything up, in the game of the succession of presidencies. In the Atrium, the installation had to be dismantled four times: the team used a principle of rolling up the different widths on scaffolding usually intended for events.

Digital work "Aour Europe" by Jacques Perconte, Maximum furniture © Luc Boegly
"Forêt II", woven work by Elise Peroi © Luc Boegly

Art installations


Installations by artists complete this system.The artist Jacques Perconte presents an immersive “Aour Europe” device on an LED screen, a real ode to the landscapes of Europe. It is located in a waiting or rest area furnished with Maximum armchairs. On the floor of the presidency, 6 young French artists based in Brussels also present their works gathered around the theme “Settings and Landscapes”: there too we find woven works, or reconstructed panoramas. Again and again, to assemble, to gather, to find what unites.

An extremely political scenography, but with the right tone: an affirmation of a European identity, with elegance in subject and serenity. So French?

Nathalie Degardin