The Ministry of Culture has just announced the renewal of the mandate of Hervé Lemoine at the direction of National Furniture and Manufactures of Gobelins, Beauvais, Savonnerie and national lace workshops. Meeting with a committed director, who tells us about the objectives for the coming years.
2018-2021: A first mandate focused on promoting know-how and contemporary creation
By taking the direction of the National Furniture in 2018, Hervé Lemoine notes that the institution is best known for its important collections and its mission of furnishing the official places of the Republic, but insufficiently for its intangible heritage ” yet considerable in the know-how of crafts, with rare skills. And this aspect seems to him as important as the tangible heritage itself. During these first three years, he therefore seeks to enhance them. In addition, it also seems important to him to show how much this institution is turned towards contemporary creation, and this since its creation: ” We have always created with contemporary artists from each era, and today we work with Françoise Pétrovitch as well as with India Mahdavi. This dimension of creation in the field of textiles or design is not necessarily known or recognized by the general public, yet this is what gives the institution great modernity, and its great singularity. »
It will thus be one of the main axes of communication, which will see the participation of the institution in major events such as FIAC, Paris Design Week and the creation of prizes rewarding young creation. Because the ecosystem in which Mobilier national operates is intended above all to be transgenerational, whether for training or support for creation.
During this first mandate, Hervé Lemoine also endeavored to make the institution’s involvement visible throughout France: “When we talk about Mobilier national, we imagine above all a Parisian institution whereas we have factories all over France: in Beauvais, Aubusson, Alençon… We work with a whole ecosystem of partners, masters of art, the best workers from France, living heritage companies, whom we call on throughout the territory in addition to the skills we have internally. Like the young designers who do not necessarily have the means to be installed in the heart of Paris or in the Paris region, the masters of art are everywhere in France. And an institution like ours can be a support and a lever for an entire ecosystem in all territories. ”
Support for the creative ecosystem
For Hervé Lemoine, the importance is to think of an ecosystem action: “ The existence of an institution such as the Mobilier national in the 21st century is not obvious. It is not easy to consider that the State still has factories and workshops in its bosom, except if they contribute to research, to creations, in their fields of competence. “The mission of supporting creation is closely linked to the historic mission of planning official places of the Republic:” The real purpose is to show in these prestigious places the excellence of know-how and crafts, the art of living, decorative arts and French design. And for us to be able to accomplish this, there still need to be creators, masters of art… It is therefore also our mission to support them. »
The proof is in the facts: from April 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, the Mobilier national is activating an economic support plan throughout the territory (see “The Mobilier national is the furniture of the Nation” 5/14/2020). Will this plan be renewed, or even strengthened for this second term? Hervé Lemoine is confident: “ After what we have set up in an experimental way and in an emergency, both for crafts and young creation, we are going to reissue these plans by mobilizing greater funds, with a new plan for the restoration of collections and public commissions. “Thus, the institution should mobilize around one million euros in 2021 (or double that of 2020), to give work to these trades and companies threatened by the disappearance of customers. “ Our major role is to support this ecosystem of fine crafts, to be a springboard for this young generation of creators, to bring out the Andrée Putman and Pierre Paulins of tomorrow. ”
The director of the institution is very attached to this social function, in particular for the young design creation which does not currently have showcases and intermediaries such as trade shows, fairs and professional meeting places to make themselves known. ” We are therefore going to reissue an acquisition plan for our national collections of pieces from these young creators who do not have public visibility to face the current situation. We also try to work on the enhancement of these pieces by using the furnishings of official places to show the liveliness of this young creation. We are considering depositing them in embassies abroad, as iconic pieces of young French creation. We must continue to help them to get through this particular period which is slowing down their professional integration.“
A second term open to research
During this second term, the National Furniture Research and Creation Workshop should be strengthened to support more projects, in a desire to develop the design office, in particular to help young designers in the prototyping phases.
But the ambition is greater for the mission of the design office. ” I also want to reinvest ourselves in the social field. When the ARC was created, this workshop very quickly worked on major projects, such as furniture to equip the Youth and Culture Centers, research programs on prison furniture or the fitting out of hospitals. We led reflection projects in a concept of “design for all”: we have helped to meet functional needs with an aesthetic or formal reflection affecting a very wide audience. This function has been put aside a bit. We have focused on the creation of unique pieces and limited series which, of course, mark the history of creation and reflection in design. But the current crisis is prompting a rethinking of certain public services. It is interesting to take advantage of government stimulus plans to participate in the reorganization of certain services, certain spaces, to think of them differently. We can make our contribution to finding solutions. »
It can be participation in multidisciplinary research groups on issues such as the organization of local services in a context of social distancing, or reflections on the organization of EHPAD: ” After the Ségur de la Santé, billions of euros are on the table to rethink their functioning. It seems to us that designers must be called upon to answer these questions. »
A change of status under consideration
Among the projects to come, the teams are working on a change of status. The National Furniture is currently a service with national competence, like the functioning of a DRAC. ” We do a lot of operations, and this status creates great difficulties in carrying out all these projects. A change would mainly aim to find a legal tool adapted to our objectives. An example is given of a passage in a public administrative establishment, like the great museums of France or schools of architecture. This would give the institution legal autonomy which would facilitate the establishment of agreements with many partners, particularly private ones.