In praise of mixity

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 

 

Tutors: Élodie Cardinaud, Margot Pons, Solène Borrat/ graphic designers

Project manager: Stéphane Coulaud

 

Objectives: 
Can an object have two different functions? By developing this idea, which keenly interests designers today, the classes learned what design is all about. Rather than seeing things as finished objects, the project tried to give a realistic idea of the way they are produced. The same object can have one or more functions, uses and unintended uses. If the object can be used in a new way, does that mean the designer failed to imagine all possible use scenarios and functions? Does the material chosen by the designer restrict it to just one use or function? If it has several functions, are they complementary or opposed?

Workshop:
The workshop was divided into several sessions combining documentary research, materials research, experimentation and model making.

Design?
After a presentation of the designer’s job, the pupils began documentary research on the idea of putting objects to new uses. Looking at the work of designers like the Campana brothers, used as an example of this practice, the pupils applied the same approach to their own research. This preliminary work helped them express their initial ideas in class.

Everyday materials
Groups of pupils tested everyday materials, such as paper cups, history and geography textbooks, a tennis ball, paperclips to assess their plastic qualities. They began to make models using this "raw material". The textbooks were folded, cut out, curled then piled on a vertical support for decorative purposes. Plain off-white paper cups were used to make a hanging lamp.

Make and tell
The final object was a hemisphere nearly a metre in diameter structured on ten levels with the broadest part on the outside. To give it more character, the pupils played on the translucent quality of the material, which filtered the light produced by a low-energy bulb.
In the last stage the pupils talked about their objects to the class. This let them practise an oral presentation for the sound recording we were planning.

Outcome:
At the end of the project, the pupils were asked to talk about the object they had created and put to new uses during the workshops. A 10-minute recording was made and played in the schools using a scenographic device equipped with audio headsets.

 

Outings (selection):
- MUSÉE DES ARTS DÉCORATIFS: BARROCO ROCOCO, AN EXHIBITION OF THE WORK OF THE CAMPANA BROTHERS
- OPEN DAY AT ENSCI-LES ATELIERS.
- MUSÉE DES ARTS ET MÉTIERS: EXHIBITION “AND MAN CREATED… THE ROBOT”.

Participating schools:
- Class (5th), Collège Jean Jacques Rousseau, Le Pré-Saint-Gervais
- Class (3rd), Collège Jean-Baptiste Corot, Le Raincy
- Class (3rd), Collège Pierre Sémard, Drancy

In praise of mixity