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madd-bordeaux: focus on agroecological design

Who would have thought that one day, the term farmer would be associated with that of designer? In light of the upheavals we are experiencing, today’s farmer is rethinking his job, re-apprehending the soil, creating new tools to live better and feed ourselves, while valuing Mother Nature. By combining ancient and high-tech practices, this 21st century gentleman farmer defends the notion of agroecology and tries to answer the fundamental questions of our time and those to come. An exhibition-manifesto.

“Farmers designers, agriculture in motion” explores the notion of Farming design [design de l’agriculture, ndlr], by portraying a new generation of farmers, through the presentation of their very attentive visions nature and its behavior. “Farming and design? The link goes without saying, because the first area is one of the major challenges of our society and one of the great questions of design, these are the production processes, explains Constance Rubini, director of the museum and curator of the exhibition . And then, isn’t one of the roles of current design to invent new reciprocities? Today there are many parallels between these practices and those of design. » Taking place in the temporary exhibition spaces installed in the former 19th century prison adjoining the founding building of the museum, the route, divided into two parts by a corridor decorated with portraits of the “pioneers” of the trend, unfolds from each next to two large courtyards, around which the former prison cells deal with many themes.

Exhibition ''Farmers designers, a living art'' © madd-bordeaux

''Gardens in the city'', Seeds as living heritage, madd-Bordeaux main courtyard. Garden imagined and sponsored by Caroline Miquel, market gardener, founder of the Inspired Gardens in Taillan-Médoc, Gironde

Portraits of peasants as designers


In the first of the interior courtyards, like an inventory on the subject, the exhibition evokes the advances of nine international “peasant-researchers” through a vegetal scenography, in moult. In the Drôme, Sébastien Blache, ex-ornithologist at the Natural History Museum, and Elsa Gärtner are planting trees and hedges, among other things, and installing nesting boxes, in order to develop and regenerate biodiversity. In Burkina Faso, the global agroecological approach of the Adama Dialla estate has been set up with the local association “Association Inter-zone pour le Développement en Milieu Rural” (AIDMR) and a second, French, “Terre & Humanisme “. Alliance and crop rotation, rational water management are some of its agro-ecological practices adapted to the place. Another example, in Brazil, Ernst Götsch, who never separates from his machete on display here, observed his degraded soils, intended for real estate projects, and found fourteen springs there. The result ? In ten years, a dense forest has taken place and restored the land to its full fertility.

Exhibition "Farmers designers, a living art" at Madd-Bordeaux
© Arthur Fosse
Erwan Bouroullec, Impossible N1, sublimation on fabric laminated on aluminium, 2021 Exhibition "Farmers designers, a living art" at madd-bordeaux © Erwan Bouroullec

Design for a more desirable image of the profession


As for the twelve adjoining cells, they address key points such as seeds, leaven, the standardization of living things, but also present a more attractive image of this actor of the earth, through installations, interviews and film. In one of them, the report by Colombe Rubini presents three “young shoots” attentive to their animals or their land: the shepherdess Maina Chassenet, the pig breeder Nina Passecot and the tea producer in Basque Country, Mikel Esclamadon. Throughout the spaces, the face of a peasantry in very intimate connection with its land, which works in a network, shares its knowledge, its tools, its materials. As proof, the French cooperative Atelier Paysan freely distributes plans on the internet, such as those of the exhibited models of the “Aggrozouk”, a soil-friendly tool holder, with a very lunar design, or the “cultibutte” designed to shape or maintain the mounds.

''Sourdough, unsuspected matrix of bread'' Exhibition ''Farmers designers, a living art'' at madd-bordeaux, Cultural Season Resources / Bordeaux 2021 © Rodolphe Escher

Another section evokes, through a set of comparisons, soil regeneration, under the prism of permaculture or agroforestry redesigning landscapes. The exhibition also leads us to reapprehend water as a “cycle”, with the installation of the CTJM workshop by designers Charlotte Talbot & Jonathan Mauloubier, evoking the daily transpiration of an oak tree – up to 500 liters of water -, in summer. But also to “hear”, “observe” the intelligence of plants that transmit and emit signals, as demonstrated by the Italian plant neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso, but also the conference of the biologist Francis Hallé, specialist in the ecology of tropical forests, in Montreal, in 2018, audible in situ .

Revamped design of tools and student-designers in agriculture


“Campagnoles”, “press-mottes”, “grelinettes”… In the second courtyard are gathered “new” more malleable peasant tools, inspired by those before the industrial era, in a scenography by François Bauchet and Jean-Baptiste Fatrez. Finally, as a nod to the future of this theme with regard to design, the museum exhibits the proposals of students from ECAL – Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne – under the direction of Erwan Bouroullec, grand- sons of breeders. Installations a bit deadpan, which refresh our memory by denouncing, among other things, the stranglehold of China on bananas or the still very polluting transport of goods.

"Water, a virtuous cycle", Illustration created by the CTJM workshop. Exhibition "Farmers designers, a living art" at madd-bordeaux, Cultural Season Resources / Bordeaux 2021 © Rodolphe Escher
"Real Facts" installation created by ECAL students under the direction of Erwan Bouroullec and Adrien Rovero. Exhibition "Farmers designers, a living art" at madd-bordeaux © ECAL/Jimmy Rachez

Offering a prospective, original and instructive light on agriculture, the exhibition may seem complex due to its very scientific remarks and its multiple points of view, for the simple design lover. However, this presentation, which extends to certain Bordeaux farms and vineyards as well as to spaces planted, on purpose, in various districts of the city, is also the perfect illustration of the words of American designer Paul Rand, stipulating that everything was design. Everything is Design , like agriculture!

Virginie Chuimer-Layen

Peasant designers, agriculture in motion , Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, 39 rue Bouffard, Bordeaux (33000). until May 8, 2022.