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Resignation of the new director of ENSCI – Les Ateliers

Rémy Fenzy, appointed on November 13 by the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire and the Minister of Culture Frank Riester, resigns from his post of director of ENSCI – Les Ateliers. At the end of a final meeting, the third, with the students of the Parisian school of industrial creation, the former director of the ENSP of Arles announced his resignation from the post of director of the ENSCI – Workshops.

An opaque appointment process

The soap opera takes root in February 2019. Yann Fabès, then director of ENSCI – Les Ateliers, presents his resignation on the grounds of a “disagreement with the Ministry of Culture on[son] administrative status ”. In post since 2016, he is temporarily replaced by the general secretary of the Anne Nouguier school, while the recruitment process takes shape.
A decision which does not fail to surprise and which gives rise to concerns in the ranks of the students. In a press release of February 19, they point the finger at the reasons for this resignation which marks “a dysfunction in the dialogue between the school administration and its supervisors” and “a lack of will on the part [des] supervision of ensuring the sustainability of the educational project carried by the school ”.


The recruitment process for the new director of ENSCI – Les Ateliers is launched in March. Three profiles were then selected: Jeanne Gailhoustet, director of ENSP Limoges, Emmanuel Mahé, director of Research at EnsAD and Rémy Fenzy, director of ENSP d’Arles.
In an advisory capacity, the board of directors of ENSCI-Les Ateliers, made up of students and staff, representatives of the supervisory ministries and design professionals, supports the applications of the first 2 and expresses reservations about to that of Rémy Fenzy. In the vote, he totals 4 votes “for” which are none other than those of the representatives of the ministries and of a professional.
Despite this result, the Ministries of Industry and Culture confirmed his appointment as director of ENSCI – Les Ateliers on November 13.

Although the opinion of the board of directors of the rue Saint-Sabin school (Paris 11th arrondissement) is only advisory, the appointment of Rémy Fenzy shows a “certain opacity in the consultation process”, estimates Émile, a 3rd year student. at ENSCI – Les Ateliers.

An unconvincing project candidate

At the beginning of July, the videoconference interviews with the 3 candidates lead to the discovery of Rémy Fenzy’s educational project. A poor application that reflects “poor knowledge of the school” according to the students.
On November 20, the now ex-director presented his project again. While the students and staff present expect an enriched project compared to the previous ones, they find that nothing has changed. “The form is suitable but the substance does not present anything convincing” summarizes Émile, member of the student-elected office. Rémy Fenzy is criticized for relying on a mirror university project of the one that exists today. By offering, for example, an already existing gap year, or double courses currently offered, the former director shows his lack of ambition to bring the school to another dimension and especially his lack of knowledge of the ENSCI – Les Ateliers entity. .
Added to this are the controversies that have followed him since his appointment as director of the ENSP of Arles. It was renewed in 2016 against the advice of a majority of staff and students. He is criticized in particular for his authoritarian attitude towards the members of the staff, as well as his lack of investment in the future of the school. Last July, he organized a false inauguration of the new premises of the ENSP as evidenced by the students of the Arles school in a press release: “We are still in our old school, the material packed in boxes, deprived of the workshops. which are our dynamism ”.

A crisis that lasts

Faced with the inaction of the responsible ministries, the students are moving up a gear. On September 24, the students of the Parisian school demonstrate in front of the headquarters of the general direction of artistic creation (DGCA), which supports the arbitrary appointment of Rémy Fenzy to the post of director of ENSCI – Les Ateliers. At the end of October, a general student assembly decides on mobilization for the following month. This mobilization takes the form of symbolic actions. The first weekend of November, a concrete block wall is built in the courtyard of the Parisian school and the office of the future director is condemned using planks.
The week of November 4 is marked by a succession of agora, workshops and conferences aimed at affirming the collective positioning of the actors of the mobilization. Patrick Bouchain, co-founder of ENSCI – Les Ateliers, discusses the foundations of his school. Aurélien Fouillet talks about design and politics. The mobilization took a different turn when, on November 13, the appointment of Rémy Fenzy was confirmed. The blocking of the school is voted unanimously by the students and staff members present for the following week. And this, until a real alternative is proposed by the ministries of Bercy and rue de Valois.

The protest movement is characterized by solidarity between the students and members of the staff of ENSCI – Les Ateliers, who are opposed in unison to the appointment of Rémy Fenzy. Like the French designer Stéphane Villard who teaches rue de Saint-Sabin and affirms his “solidarity with the student movement because their demands are very legitimate, and that among other elements, the appointment of Mr Fenzy was made in opposition with the recommendations of the Board of Directors and members of staff who were nevertheless consulted for their opinion ”.
Support that goes beyond the walls of the Parisian school, since the students and staff of the ENSP d’Arles officially express their support through a press release on November 15. Just like the Alliance France Design (AFD) which deplores that “the voice of design professionals, teachers and students[n’ait] not been heard at its fair value ”.

Put the school back at the heart of the project

This cry of concern from the students and staff of ENSCI – Les Ateliers reflects a deeper evil, namely the tendency of the public administration to format national creation schools. The smoothing out of the specificities of each leads, in the long term, to offering the same programs as the traditional art schools. Thus, Émile deplores “the entry of ENSCI on Parcoursup” and therefore the disappearance of part of his entrance examination, which makes the identity and influence of his school.

The Parisian school, which has trained renowned designers such as Matali Crasset, Constance Guisset and Mathieu Lehanneur, is ranked second among schools and universities in Europe and America in the Red Dot Design Ranking 2016. It “is supposed to be the flagship of design schools in France” suggests Émile. To this end, students and staff must build a project that puts industrial creation back in the foreground. A project that will benefit from the quality of teaching that has made the reputation of ENSCI – Les Ateliers, and that AFD explains “in part[par] the balanced and benevolent relationships built between management, teachers and students ”.
For the moment, blocking is the watchword. So much so that the exhibition “Earth and glass”, which was to begin today, is postponed to a later date, still unknown. The result of two supervised workshops, the exhibition on the arts of fire and earth was intended to express the meeting between young designer students from ENSCI – Les Ateliers and exceptional artisans.

Rémi de Marassé