In 2021, the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès staged the fifth edition of its Skills Academy, on the subject of glass, under the directorship of designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance. Twenty-two artisans, designers and engineers were selected as “Academicians” to enrich and share their expertise in this exceptional raw material. After an initial semester of public lectures and masterclasses, reserved exclusively for the Academicians, the group gathered for the closing workshop in Marseille, at the Centre International de Recherche sur le Verre et les Arts Plastiques (Cirva).
Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance invited the Academicians to reinvent an iconic bottle, long associated with the southern French city. The aim: to explore the reuse of industrially manufactured objects, using only the distinctive glass bottles. Participants were divided into five multidisciplinary groups for two weeks of experimentation, with surprising results.
The resulting body of work is richly varied and showcases these makers’ discovery of the unexpected properties of glass, their often witty references to the city of Marseille, and the shared intelligence that is the backbone of each Skills Academy workshop. An initial exhibition was mounted in 2022 as part of the UN’s International Year of Glass, at Cirva, where the experimental pieces were originally created. Today, the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès is delighted to bring the ensemble to the top-floor galleries at La Grande Place – Musée du Cristal Saint-Louis.
The all-new presentation, designed by Luna Duchaufour-Lawrance, addresses the emphasis on sustainability that runs through the project as a whole. Locally produced, un-fired clay bricks interconnect in a vast array of shapes, each one a unique support for a work in glass. Shaped by hand at the Lanter brickworks, 40 kilometres from La Grande Place, the bricks are made from the region’s iconic red earth, to which they will return when the exhibition ends.