An important milestone in the mentoring programme, was that the mentorees had the opportunity to explore some of the various international design ecosystems. In September, 4MS Design and PDSIGN were able to get to know the vibrant life of French designers in Paris during Design Week, where they were also able to meet prominent figures from different fields. The first day consisted of a visit to the Maison et Objet International Design Fair, and with the help of Anne Moreau, the fairʼs sales manager, they were able to gain insight into the structure of the fair, viewing pavillons and their exhibitions which fitted the mentorees profiles. This provided the mentorees with insight on the business and branding benefits of participating in the fair, while the sales manager addressed the rigorous selection progress and quality assurance aspects of partaking in the fair. In addition to getting to know thespecifics of French designers and buyers, the mentorees also acquired general knowledge and background information regarding international, professional, and B2B or business fairs. This is an important professional opportunity for the mentorees as this type of theoretical and practical knowledge can only be acquired through empirical research by individual designers after many years of experience.
On the second day of the professional tour, the design START mentorees were able to view the project of the Viaduc des arts artists and designers. In 1994, the neglected suburban railway stretching from Bastille to Bercy, on the right bank of Paris, was transformed into a renowned shopping, arts and crafts center, known as the Viaduc des Arts. The former viaduct is made of distinctive rose-coloured brick and now has a total of 64 craft shops and workshops in each of its 64 graceful arches. This unique venue provided insight into contemporary craft trends and French design handicrafts. We visited two design studios: Atelier Hervé-Ébéniste, the "green wardrobe maker" who offers customized layouts for home space, storage, and ecofriendly enterior and living spaces. The wood comes from natural forests within 250km of Paris and the workshop also omits formaldehyde adhesives. He places the focus of his works on function, the essence of materials and creativity. Dan Yeffet, an Israeli-based designer based in France has won several international awards, including the EDIDA award and the Czech Grand Designer of the Year award. Dan is also known for his interior design and product design, but in majority, for his lighting design. From small-scale manufactoring to state-of-the-art manufactoring, the objects he designs are manufactured using a wide range of techniques.
During the professional tour in Paris, we also had the opportunity to visit the Philippe Hurel showroom, and we were also able to have an in-depth conversation with the renowned French designer Terence Mesguich, artistic director of the design studio. Complete with a long history, the brand redefines the old wardrobe-making tradition, incorporating imagination and creativity, but also keeping in mind future trends. The French manufactory is also asymbol of the studio. For years, Philippe Hurel has fiercely opposed relocation outside the country and has struggled to maintain local expertise that ensures real sustainable employment.
On the last day, the mentorees took part in a very interesting and important guided tour of the Mobilier National et Fabric des Gobelins de Beauvais et de la Savonnerie, from which they gained valuable information. Founded by IV. Henrik, and later reorganized by Louis XIV, Mobilier National et Fabric des Gobelins de Beauvais et de la Savonnerie is the legal successor of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, whose task today is to design the interiors of the Republic's prestigious and presidential suites and residences. Mobilier National's mission is to preserve, maintain, and restore furniture and objects that previously suffered amortization as a result of purchases and targeted orders from royal and imperial residences.
To preserve the collections, Mobilier National provides seven restoration workshops - in tapestry, carpeting, upholstery and decorative wall hangings, seated carpentry, cabinet making and bronze lighting - to help maintain, hand over and keep tradition and excellence alive.
The video from the professional working trip can be found here!