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Retro 2020: In Lille, “Designer (s) du design” drew a landscape of French design

As part of the Lille 2020 event, Jean-Louis Fréchin and his studio NoDesign offered an exciting exhibition around a hundred French projects: around a variation of verbs (initiate, question, propose, interact, surprise, bring together …), the Frenchman concocts a living journey that shows the multiple facets of industrial design and ends with prospective fields of application. The general public finds its marks in the very concrete nature of the exhibition, while professionals come out with the image of a dynamic and avant-garde sector. [mise à jour article paru le 12/9]

“Why are you doing design? “ this is the question that Jean-Louis Fréchin asked a dozen designers, of different generations, and which gives rise to a video installation presented at the start of the exhibition. After a tribute to figures who have marked the discipline, such as Charlotte Perriand, Jacques Viénot, Roger Tallon or Marc Berthier, and who have trained generations well in place today, this rather direct introduction has the merit of avoid losing the public in yet another definition of what design is, by focusing directly on projects, as proof by action, while directly sharing the passion of these professionals.


Lampe de Jean-Louis Fréchin pour DCW

The route continues with a room dedicated to Philippe Starck ( “Because it represents the absence of design limits” according to Jean-Louis Fréchin: the most famous designer of the French is present with totally eclectic projects, from the individual wind turbine project to the electric car, the AI chair for Kartell, glasses with patented bionic joints … but succeeds him in the next room the kayak and the bikes designed by the internal Decathlon team, the first consumer mobile phone produced by Alcatel, the projects of Stéphane Thirouin with SEB, of Fritsch + Durisotti (for example the sailboat) and many others insist on the fundamentals of industrial design: responding to uses, practices, in a design thought out for dissemination to the greatest number. This is also the strength of this French overview: alongside strong personalities who work internationally, the important role of integrated design teams is also highlighted.

Jean-Louis Fréchin, commissaire de l'exposition © NoDesign

Le design, force de propositions

Through the projects of Constance Guisset, Jean-Baptiste Fastrez, Mathieu Lehanneur … the exhibition continues by focusing on the strength of the designer’s proposals. Here, the boundaries between crafts and industry are blurred: whether it is by declining the bedside lamp in the TGV (Saguez & Partner) today taken up by the publisher Mustache, or research on materials (recycling of tires, fibers jute …) or on more unexpected sources by “co-manufacturing” a luminaire with the direct intervention of silkworms (Twill Light, Elise Fouin), the designer surprises with the answers and avenues of exploration that ‘it offers broader environmental and societal issues.

"Designer(s) du design" Lille 2020, Tri Postal
"Designer(s) du design" © NoDesign

Given the personality of the curator of the exhibition, the route obviously takes into account the digital revolution, which “expands the role and the potential of objects”. We discover EDF Lab’s research, such as various connected objects, but also research on typefaces for interface design, pollution sensor badges … Finally, as an echo to the layout of the space urban treatment at the start of the route – through the evolution of the definition of RATP and SNCF projects – the last part of the route insists on the question of the general interest addressed by the designers: urban cooling, street furniture, 3D printing on demand …

Dense, but accessible to the general public by a well-groomed scenography, this exhibition provides a living panorama of French design players (around sixty are mentioned, all generations combined), shows how much a designer can work on extremely varied subjects while he is is always tempting to lock it up in categories. In his video testimony, at the start of the journey, Jean Marie Massaud expressed“I do design because I can only understand a question globally” , Mathieu Lehanneur ” because I need someone to ask me a question “. And for Mathilde Brétillot” I try to find a form between what is deeply personal and an empathetic question “.

Find another Lille 2020 exhibition: “Meaning fiction” , curated by Ramy Fischler.

Find the interview with Jean-Louis Fréchin in the new number of Intramuros.