An interview with Claire-Favre-Maxwell, mudac’s Co-Director

An interview with Claire-Favre-Maxwell, mudac's Co-Director

Interview by Laura Drouet

This year Boisbuchet is teaming up with mudac - Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts - (Lausanne, Swizerland) - and Corning Museum of Glass (New York, USA) to propose “Ol-Factory”, a 10-day workshop led by studio Glithero (UK). Using Boisbuchet’s experimental kiln, participants will get the chance to develop prototypes in glass and ceramics that might become part of the scenography of a major exhibition about niche perfumery that mudac is planning for spring 2019. We caught up with Claire-Favre-Maxwell - mudac’s co-director - to find out more about her expectations regarding this collaboration.

Picture by Francesca-Palazzi
Mudac is essentially dedicated to applied arts, yet the exhibition planned for 2019 will focus on perfume - an intangible art. Do you see this as a paradox?

Traditionally mudac has a very wide approach to design and applied arts. Our “signature” exhibitions are thematic ones that deal with a specific subject (nature in design, camouflage, security, etc.) and examine the way designers - but also artists or photographers or fashion designers - deal with it. We believe in the transdisciplinarity of arts and even though - for historical reasons - we are called “Museum of design and contemporary applied arts”, we do not stick to these disciplines. In the past we have shown exhibitions dedicated to fashion (shoes in “Chaussés-Croisés” or more recently “Pop Up Design” by Lidewij Edelkoort and the MOTI in Breda), so it was quite logical for us to deal with the subject of perfume at one point. In my mind, scents are totally linked to art and applied arts if you include fashion in this domain.

What is the genesis of this exhibition?

In 2012, we showed “Touch. Le monde au bout des doigts” and we thought that it would be interesting to deal with the sense of smell. Then we decided to focus on the world of contemporary perfumery because it really corresponds to what we show at mudac.

Photo by Lucia Peluffo © Domaine de Boisbuchet
What are your main expectations regarding the Ol-Factory workshop at Boisbuchet?

We are very curious to see what the participants will come up with. In the brief, we specified that they have to think of an object that will allow visitors to smell perfumes in an exhibition context. That type of object has many constraints, which makes it interesting. The collaboration with glass blowers from the Corning Museum will be thrilling and I am thrilled to discover the proposals of the participants. Moreover the fact that they will be guided by Tim and Sarah from Glithero is a real plus, as they will be advised by professionals who will be able to orient them towards concrete outcomes.

Glassblowing experiments by Glass Lab’s staff during the “Liquid Fusion” workshop in Domaine de Boisbuchet, 2014, photo by Lucìa Peluffo © Domaine de Boisbuchet
When experiencing a museum space, scenography is generally a major issue, but this is even more true when dealing with perfume - an art that calls for interaction. Which are the main challenges that participants will face during the workshop regarding this matter?

True! Normally, in an exhibition, there are tangible, visible objects. The exhibition designers have to create a scenography that gives a context to these objects, but I would say that they « build around » these objects. In the case of the perfume exhibition at mudac, the main subject of the exhibition is the perfumes themselves. The main experience of the visitors will be to get to know these smells by scenting them.
The scenography, and especially the objects that will be imagined by the participants to the workshop, will therefore be the main visible aspect of the exhibition. It should be aesthetic, practical, accessible, original.

Details of the exhibition “Anima”, Carte blanche to Constance Guisset, 15th sept. 2016 - 15 jan. 2017, mudac, Lausanne, Switzerland, Courtesy of mudac, © Constance Guisset
Giving the opportunity to young designers to work on a real case study during a workshop - in this case the scenography of an exhibition - is a courageous initiative for a museum. Why are the hands-on process and the valorisation of upcoming designers so important for you at mudac?

At mudac we deal with living designers. We have a series of exhibitions called “carte blanche to …”, which we are very proud of. We like this relationship of trust with designers, where we offer them our spaces for them to intervene. So it was quite natural for us to offer this real case study to the participants of the Ol-Factory workshop.

Details of the exhibition “Anima”, Carte blanche to Constance Guisset, 15th sept. 2016 - 15 jan. 2017, mudac, Lausanne, Switzerland, Courtesy of mudac, © Constance Guisset
Is there something you would like to say to the Ol-Factory participants before they get to Boisbuchet?

Be original, try and surprise us but don’t forget the following key words: smell – exhibition context – practicality. And good luck!

Up for the Ol-Factory workshop this summer? Have a look!