Design and flax fiber. The French designer has captivated the world with creations bearing names such as Vertigo, Cape, Coulisse, with a design as elegant as it is legitimate, for timeless and practical objects. So Constance Guisset’s embrace of the flax fibre seemed a foregone certainty. (Photo Vincent Lappartient – CELC)
Flax, the local “raw material”
“The fact that it’s a local fibre is an important aspect for me, whether one is referring to a soft material or a composite, to traditional or techno textiles. This respect for the environment is essential for a designer: flax is an irrigation-free fibre, which is something that appeals to me, much like its warming qualities in winter and its breathability in summer. My collaboration with European flax enables me to push things further.
Maybe such as with composites, which we all use, without knowing that flax is involved! But that’s not especially important in any case, because I remain convinced that the material should serve to make the object, not the other way round.”
Does the material make the object?
“If opting for flax is a responsible choice, seeking to show off the material at all costs just isn’t my thing. We must go beyond this aesthetic. The material should serve the purpose, it must have a visual added value, one that’s emotional, almost intellectual. The material brings the object into existence.”
Design and sustainability
“The connection to the environment starts when the seed is planted, then in the way the fibre is extracted and finally transformed. It uses less energy, is a GMO-free crop, waste-free, has low fertiliser consumption, a completely biodegradable fibre, etc. Those are the positive points it has going for it.
Flax can already boast that it’s an environmentally-friendly fibre and, what’s more, a European material. Both highly technical and natural, it lends itself to all kinds of experimentation. And holds many future surprises in store for us.”
Flax in action at ENSAD
“I took up the challenge with students from the National School of Decorative Arts (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, ENSAD) of brainstorming around the linen fibre, as part of a workshop. How did I go about this? I always like the thought process to occur around a word. An action verb, because what a designer does is all about action. I avoid rigid preconceptions, I observe how objects welcome the body, or appeal to the eyes.
We seem to eternally suffer from a lack of welcome, even a visual one. My choice fell on the verb “to welcome” because there are a thousands ways in which to welcome. Fifty objects pop into my head just by saying the word. I wanted to get the 25 students to think about this theme without imposing any kind of typology in terms of objects. The students revealed themselves to be interested, active and motivated – coming up with objects that were genuine and real, such as flax can be.”
The Blog Esprit Design is our Ultralin Ambassador for this workshop. His author Vincent will be in charge to follow ULTRALIN ACADEMY, the workshop by French designer Constance Gusset with ENSAD‘ students.
Interview by Elodie Palasse Leroux for our Journal All About Linen and Hemp #14
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