A “borderline” and prolific designer, Florence Doléac imagines objects, halfway between art and design, with a lot of humor. The designer from Toulouse, now based in Douarnenez in Brittany, told us, between two courses at the National School of Decorative Arts, her practice of design, her relationship to creation and her daring projects. Meet.
Muuuz: You are represented by the Jousse Entreprise gallery, a contemporary art gallery, you work in a workshop and you consider yourself a “borderline designer”. In this, your work oscillates between art and design. How do you see the design?
Florence Doléac: It was while studying and practicing design that I discovered its limits. Finally, as a designer, you can find things to say and position yourself, then refuse to do certain things. I tried to do industrial design, but while being free. When I had a good idea, I tried to find the industry that could develop it, but it didn't work. The industries were interested, but that's not how they work. I never succeeded in developing my ideas with an industrialist, because I had too fervent an imagination compared to the specifications that the profession imposed on me in France. As I was frustrated by this, I naturally let myself be carried towards art.
How would you describe your design practice?
Today, and especially since my installation in Brittany, I lead an artist's life rather than a designer. After my studies and my experience with the Radi Designers group, I wanted to return to the work of the material and to an open-plan practice of design.
How well do you tell stories?
I believe that it is this way of approaching matter in a free way that allows me to tell stories. I appropriate it, distort it, or magnify it. Sometimes it's lazy, clumsy, risky. I am spontaneous and intuitive, so I do not try to analyze at the same time as I produce.
The seat ADADA offers a new conviviality report and regressive postures. How did you come up with the idea of a fun design?
Playful objects have existed since the dawn of time, especially in the 1990s. I have always been sensitive to derision and funny little gestures. It comes from my childhood in the countryside. I come from a family who loved humor and the construction of objects. Right now, I'm creating an associative place of technical and fun knowledge in Douarnenez.
You studied industrial design, but today you question the function of the object and seek to disrupt the relationship that users have with it. You also describe your approach as a “soft critique of functionalism”. Why?
I have always observed people, their individual or collective behavior. I then realized comic situations linked to dysfunctions. I am fervent of these faults, problems and attitudes, where humor interferes. I have fun. I develop a form of criticism in my work while focusing on talking about the function of objects. I shake up the relationship that we usually have with them.
Do you think using humor is the best way to question the use of the object?
For me humor is the icing on the cake, a higher energy. I am sensitive to that, so I try to make the public smile. The humor is an invitation to let go of a time when we laugh less and less.
You have decided to launch the Maxidreams project, which consists of planting beds under trees and creating a map of beds placed under different trees. What role did Maurice Sendak's illustrated album play Max and the Maximonsters in your work?
I discovered this children's book through a friend a few years ago. This book was a slap. I looked at the drawings and discovered Max's life. I thought it was great. The forests growing in Max's room have questioned me a lot. What is the dream bed? Is it the forest that grows in the room? Is it not the bed that grows in the forest? These reflections inspired me, and I ended up creating an international community of dreamers with beds planted in the forest. I call on everyone to come and be part of Maxidreams and build their own bed. I installed two dream beds in nature. The first in the Cévennes in Gabriac, and the second on the island of Nègrepelisse under a canopy of lime trees as part of an exhibition organized by the Cuisine, art and design center. I also plan to make a bed in France, to transport it by sailboat to the United States, then to plant it under the maple trees in the Johns-Hopkins University park in Baltimore. I have already met the researchers from the faculty's sleep center who agree to collaborate with me. It only remains to find the funds to make the trip.
I also designed with the Maximum collective, former students, Maxidodo, monumental beds. One of these creations was also acquired by a Belgian museum, the BPS22. I am very happy!
Pom Pom Dust depicts the domestic universe through a sort of household choreography. How can your design be feminist?
I made provocations, but they go beyond feminism. Pom Pom Dust can reach everyone, talk to a man as well as a woman. My place Fairy house follows the same logic of provocation. It is a question of considering the household like an art of living or a dance. With a little imagination, household chores can become very fun. I sweep the conventions and make fun of our daily report to tell something.
Who is your design for?
It is for everyone! I don't use specific cultural codes. My pieces are timeless and universal. They trap the public where they do not expect it.
What project would you dream of carrying out?
I have long wanted to create a great nightclub, but today it amuses me less. I especially want to develop my two current projects, Maxidreams and my school of technical and fun knowledge in Brittany.
How do you imagine the design of tomorrow?
less is more. I hope there will be less. I imagine an ecological design, a design respectful of the planet and others, which would lead to an evolution of consciousness. However, people are starting to react. I enjoy living in an era where the causes of scale are becoming interplanetary, especially thanks to social networks and the new generation. My students today are very focused on ecology, humanitarianism. They are very critical children of the crisis. They arrive at school sensitized with the desire to reinvent their profession, to bring new energies and to question the economy, the materials, the modes of production.
Photographs: 1) Michaël Huard / Say Who
2) Florence Doléac, Adada, 2010, 6-seater circular armchair, inflatable pvc balls, pvc coated textile, polypropylene net, velcro. View of the Pom Pom Dust exhibition, Jousse Entreprise gallery, Paris, 2011, Courtesy of the artist and of the Jousse Entreprise gallery, Paris
3) Florence Doléac, En garde, 2010, duffel hooks, feathers, cotton, wool, resin cords, metal eyelets, variable dimensions, © Paul Nicoué, Courtesy of the artist and the Jousse Entreprise gallery, Paris
4) Florence Doléac, Bamakogistretti, 2016, calabash, 40 cm diameter, 60 cm H, Courtesy of the artist and the Jousse Entreprise gallery, Paris
5) Florence Doléac and Maximum, Maxidodo, 2019, Vauban galvanized steel barrier, flocking, Ipé wooden shelves, accessories, 145 cm H x 270 L x 170 l, © Paul Nicoué, Collection of the Province of Hainaut. Deposit at BPS22, Charleroi, Courtesy Galerie Jousse Entreprise, Paris