Entretien avec Paul Marchesseau, designer et architecte d'intérieur

Interview with Paul Marchesseau, designer and interior architect

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The month of September is marked in Paris by the sacrosanct Design Week. A week dedicated, as its name suggests, to all practices linked to design, organized around the Maison et Objets show and in the galleries of central Paris. A special moment to exhibit, show and promote the latest creations of talents in the sector.

And in these times of ecological crisis, it is important to increasingly take into account the environmental impact of architecture and design production. This is why we decided to discuss with Paul Marchesseau, founder of Emilieu Studio, which produces architecture based on reuse and reflects a practice that is engaged and deeply anchored in our time.

The opportunity to address forgotten practices such as decorative painting, allowing us to find alternatives to the production of new materials, but also to talk about the role of clothing in a profession at the crossroads between different sectors.

Your interior design and architecture practice is mixed, and has been built from the start on the importance of reuse and environmental issues. Tell us a little about the genesis of your work and its applications.

I created an interior design and architecture agency called Emilieu Studio, with which we also do research through an integrated think tank. It involves working on environmental, social or political subjects, always linked to architecture and design. The basic idea is to always link theory and practice. As designers, it is important to think about “earthly design” by connecting to reality. We therefore do projects linked to the event, such as scenographies for example, preferably public projects. Because it is the impact of architecture that interests me; whether it is the reception of people, the working conditions or how everyone lives and is influenced by the space. The construction of a space always conditions the way individuals live and see the world.

My parents were in organic farming, and I was always impressed by their way of looking at things. My father worked in a mill made from 80% reuse, and I quickly understood the possibilities and the influence of the work of people who campaign on these issues.

So the practice of design can be linked to reuse and ecology in both its form and substance. A few years ago, with the artist Yann Toma, we designed an energy installation for COP21 on the Eiffel Tower. Last year, we had the chance to work on the new Camondo Méditerranée school – a large interior design school – which we built in accordance with the territory and 90% based on reused materials – it that is to say with already existing material. Today, more than ever, architecture must be designed with as little new production as possible.

Your practice is therefore very focused on reuse, and you have also worked on this technique through textiles…

Yes, we recently accompanied a festival called RRRecycle, which aimed to have a more global reflection on the issues of reuse, recycling, and repair in design in the broad sense. We brought in personalities working in textiles but also historians. It was necessary to demystify the contemporary movements of reuse and upcycling, which have in fact existed for decades, and show that these techniques can and must be updated. New practices are being put in place and forming new professions, such as shoemaking for example, which is now adapted to sneakers.

The recycling of rags has already existed since the 19th century, at the time we also recycled old textiles with the aim of creating fake velvet and thus making luxurious fabrics accessible to a social class which did not have the means to pay for it. these specific tissues. So we were already recycling at the time to make imitation textiles or tapestry.

I also worked on textiles for a project financed by the Hermès Foundation; the Agora of Design at the Pavillon de l’Arsenal. The challenge is to make a fully reversible project using textile printing; textile then reused as a fashion accessory. We didn't want to simply send the material to an association but rather optimize the scraps as much as possible and show concrete prototypes of bags built “with scraps from the exhibition”.

Everything is designed to recreate a new object, and textile is a material that is easy to reuse.

As part of Design Week, do you have this Agora du Design project and other projects linked to reuse?

Yes, we created this scenography for the Agora du design at the Pavillon de l'Arsenal, and we are presenting a collection of furniture at the Puces de Saint-Ouen, which is also reused. These are pieces of furniture painted with the decorative painting technique, aiming to imitate fake marble.

What exactly is decorative painting?

Decorative painting is a technique originating from the end of the 19th century which consists of studying the material in all its roughness in order to be able to reproduce it identically in painting. It is a technique widely used in interior architecture to make imitations of marble or wood for example. It is also used a lot for film sets. In my practice, it is really a desire not to extract real material, and not needing to transport anything.

Interior architecture and design are professions at the crossroads between several fields, several worlds and formal frameworks, what place do clothing and clothing have in this work?

Architecture is historically a very male profession, because women unfortunately had little access to these studies. Professionals were therefore often dressed in suits. Since then, the practice has become more popular and the ornaments have been removed. Architects have “undressed” architecture, they are often minimalist, dressed in black or white. This still persists in the discipline, and those who say they go against the grain often translate it by going to the opposite sartorially speaking. By wearing a lot of colors, like Patrick Bouchain for example. They represent themselves by dressing differently.

Design is a little different because it’s a younger, more engineering profession. It's a fairly regulated profession where people are often dressed according to fashion trends. Sportswear, rigid style, shirt-trousers, it all depends on the sectors of activity in which we work. In the world of luxury, it is more formal, but design remains a discipline linked to the urban world.

So you can't afford everything when you're an architect?

No, well it really depends on your clientele. It is she who conditions your style, because there is a real work of representation. We dress in line with what we are going to offer as an aesthetic. Some, like Vincent Darré, will dress quite eccentrically, because their architecture is too. We represent what we are going to do.

So some designers use their personal image to “sell” their architecture?

Also yes, because when we look for an interior designer, we often look for a personality who matches our expectations for the project. It all depends on the types of architecture. If you're doing real estate, you're going to look for someone who also knows how to do engineering and project management.

Image, and clothing freedom therefore depends on the environments we frequent. Personally, I frequent fairly wide circles. When I go to see clients in traditional real estate, I will opt for a fairly fitted blue shirt with denim pants and sneakers, for example. For less formal clients, I will go for a more casual, more open velvet shirt, or a t-shirt, with light, wide pants.

And where do you store your clothes? Are the shirts folded well?

It is often said that the shoemaker is always the one with the worst shoes. That's my case ! My shirts are poorly folded or on hangers and ironed the same day according to appointments. They also change several times. On the other hand, I clearly differentiate jackets from shirts. To get my bearings better, because I have a few too many blue shirts, I have to distinguish them clearly!