Philippe Nigro:“Flax, in my opinion, is a material that should speak for itself
and not pretend to be something else.”
A designer with a particularly eclectic career, Philippe Nigro enjoys experimental projects and really embracing the material. So it was only natural that he would rise to the challenge of creating a place for flax in the city, in the open air, for ULTRA LIN L’EXPO.
Flax fibre has captured your attention. What is it about it that made you want to experiment with it?
The seemingly limitless mixes – visually, technically, so many things are possible – and its versatility. Its inherent strength and resistance also, which is an aspect particularly appreciated by a designer.
Flax is a fibre of proximity and traceability: in what way did these concepts factor into your work as a designer?
Flax as a European product? Yes, we have to encourage local production; it is a sector experiencing a real renaissance right now, and this is something of which we can be proud. The hipsters have encouraged the revival; and, more than a fad, it marks a return to the essentials and needs to be encouraged.
Which words do you associate with flax fibre?
Strength and versatility.
If you wished to convince reluctant people, which qualities would you highlight?
Cultivated and processed practically in our back yard, it’s a plant that generates 0% waste and is not a greedy consumer of water. It restores ecosystems. It can be found everywhere, from insulation, to architecture and transport.
It’s a material that stands apart from the crowd. A 100% natural flax fibre helmet ? No, the fibre acts as a reinforcement. While the flax composite still has its limitations, the flax fibre’s great qualities are revealed when it’s combined with other materials.
Constance Guisset & Philippe Nigro during ULTRA LIN Press Conference in Paris (Feb. 2016)
What experiments would you like to try with flax?
I am currently working on the development of a flax chair. My immersive apprenticeship in flax for the scenography is informing this project, and vice versa. For me flax has a very exciting hyper technical side.
With your thorough knowledge of materials and issues of sustainability, what kind of future do you see for flax?
At CELC, I discovered an historical anecdote that really struck me, about the use of flax in making the armour of Alexander the Great! Surely the first composite in history. I was also very surprised to learn that linen provides the origin for the word “lingerie”! In reading of this past that’s rooted so deeply in our history, and its daily uses (home linens, linoleum, composite products, etc), I realize that it is already very essential, because in this time of transition and turbulence we are all in need of reassurance, and it fulfils this task perfectly.
Flax reassures us with its promise of sustainability – for the planet as much as in the wardrobe.
Flax fibre has become an identifiable reference, a spearhead synonymous with quality products, a reaction to what is apparently inevitable disposability. It has become essential when using materials, as a designer, not to lie, not to cheat.
Producing in a fair and correct way, envisioning recycling along with respecting the material and the environment: it’s for now, and it’s for tomorrow.
Flax, in my opinion, is a material that should speak for itself and not pretend to be something else.
Philippe Nigro’s sketch – ULTRA LIN L’EXPO Place des Vosges, Paris
You have undertaken the scenography of the attention-grabbing exhibition on the ULTRALIN programme. In what way did the flax material, both raw and processed, guide you in creating the ULTRA LIN EXPO journey?
A field of flax under an open sky in the center of Paris: such constraints provide a wonderful opportunity to really draw in and engage with the public. Playing on the unexpected. The idea of this field is truly magical. The scenography will take pride of place at the heart of it.
And what do you hope the visitor will take away from all this?
Throughout ALL its stages of transformation, the flax fibre is simply a beautiful material. I tell this story in an uncomplicated and clear way as an articulated progression across multiple platforms, from the field to the spinning.
The last pavilion is intended to explain how flax is being used now. Today, 90% of flax is processed into textiles for home linens and fashion. ULTRA LIN L’EXPO conveys this idea of a linear process. Industrial but agricultural, and European. We must raise awareness among the public of the atypical nature of this material, of the fact that having emerged from agriculture, it becomes, through a long process, a whole series of unexpected objects. It’s playing on the element of surprise, learning and surprising.
ULTRA LIN L’EXPO. Mark your diaries: 23 May to 6 June 2016, Place des Vosges, Paris.
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#ULTRALIN: a flax promotion programme, jointly financed by the European Union and the Flax industry, and targeting the final consumer.
ULTRA LIN L’EXPO: An exhibition open to all and a shopping itinerary in Paris and the provinces, from 23 May to 6 June 2016. Department stores, own-brand stores, concept stores and online sites become official representatives of flax for the general public. www.ultralin.fr
Dive into the FLAX experience, from agriculture to final products with the webdoc: www.ultralin.fr
ENJOY, IT’S FROM EUROPE
ULTRA LIN is the promotional programme for premium quality European flax fibre, jointly co-financed by the Flax&Linen Industry (European Confederation of Flax and Hemp) and the European Union, for the final consumer.
ULTRA LIN EXPO An exhibition open to all along with a shopping itinerary in Paris and regional cities from May 23 to June 6, 2016. Department stores, retailers, concept stores and online shops are the voice of flax/linen to the general public.
#ULTRALIN ENJOY, IT’S FROM EUROPE !
Webdoc : www.ultralin.fr