Behind the scenes of Boisbuchet
an interview of Mathias Schwartz-Clauss by Laura Maggi
Existing for over 25 years now, Boisbuchet’s summer workshops since 2014 set their focus on a specific theme, that has always turned out to be closely interwoven with what is in the air, not only in the world of design but in the wider field of augmented thinking. All workshops approach the subject from a different point of view and develop it with specific tools, linked to the discipline they are related to, but all together, by the end of the season, they feature an updated state of the art’s fresco. Since 2014 the composer and regisseur of the workshops is Mathias Schwartz-Clauss, an art historian and curator, with the role of director of the Domaine de Boisbuchet and responsible for the exhibitions and the architectural park. This Summer he will challenge himself again as a tutor – together with Dutch designer Harm Rensink – by running the workshop "Storm Boisbuchet's Castle", as he brilliantly did in 2016 with "So far my idea" with Cecilia Andersson on the curatorial narrative. Follow our conversation to discover what lies behind the scenes of next season.
The 2017 theme is “Grow the Future Now”. Why have you chosen this subject?
Mathias: Design shapes our environment. It concerns simple tools such as knives and forks as well as architecture, landscape, or communication systems. Today’s globalizing society challenges this creative process with increasingly complex considerations. However, our future not only requires the respective responsibility, it is also open for experimentation and learning - even for play. We all are constantly living a childhood of the future while carrying a backpack of history at the same time. But that’s exactly our opportunity: Boisbuchet provides an ideal laboratory for this creative scenario as it offers a maximum of liberty in space, time and organisation within lots of inspiration: nature, the knowledge encompassed in our tutor’s expertise, and plenty of illustrative examples in Boisbuchet’s diverse architecture, exhibitions, archives, and design collections. "Grow the Future Now" is thus an invitation to take advantage of a past to learn from, while considering and questioning real needs and tackling our creative liberty.
Which are the highlights of the coming season?
Mathias:I guess we would have done a bad job if I would not be excited about all the workshops this year! However, we are very honoured that rising stars such as architect Lina Ghotmeh, designer Lex Pott, and ecologist Li An Phoa are joining us. I also expect that the action-focus of a guy like Joost Conijn, Timur Ersen'shands-on clay architecture, the combination of yoga and product design with Franziska Kessler and Sebastian Bergne, or film-making with Bêka & Lemoine all present stunning experiences. But again: I honestly trust in our program in general and believe that "the highlight effect” will happen in the perception of each and every participant of our workshops.
From design to architecture, from food to digital, from film to engineering: the workshops cover a wide range of subjects. How did you combine these skills and add new entries, such as perfume?
Three months of preparation and a workshop season of only three months is indeed quite a short time. But then it’s also four weeks a month, in which we propose almost constantly three workshops per week. This offers a lot of possibilities to address the diversity of design and its articulation in different cultures.
How do you choose the tutors?
Mathias:We are selecting our tutors according to the authenticity and innovation of their oeuvre, their international reputation, a design approach in tune with the season’s theme, and in consideration of an utmost diversity of disciplines and cultural backgrounds. But of course not everyone accepts and we have to consider each one’s availability.
Boisbuchet’s workshops have been running for over 25 years. How has the idea of design changed over time?
Mathias:The common understanding about design has indeed changed a lot since we started our program. The 1990’s were a crucial period, in which design began to be perceived beyond the aesthetic appearance of objects. In fact, our first workshops were about furniture and product design only. But thanks to the work of museums (in which both Alexander von Vegesack and myself have been involved since the very beginning), a radically development of media, as well as the evolving academic education, the observing and consuming public started to understand our discipline as a holistic approach to a practical problem solving which comprises artistic, economical, scientific, and social concerns alike.
What does design mean today?
Mathias:Design is still an essential factor of marketing and communication in almost every aspect of our activities. But mainly due to the paradigmatic change of media information, design loses its role as a visual discipline only and increasingly concerns more concretely the social and ethical concepts behind our ways of understanding and acting. That’s also the reason why interdisciplinary methods gain such an importance in this key discipline. I believe that the experience of life and work around such a holistic idea of design is an outstanding opportunity that Boisbuchet offers to the creative youth of today.
Read more about Mathias Schwartz-Clauss and Harm Rensink's workshop this summer!
Workshop "So far my idea" by Mathias Schwartz-Clauss and Cecilia Andersson 2016 © Domaine de Boisbuchet