Six voluntary classes. 150 students, from primary school to the sixth form. Three experts: an artisan, a designer, a teacher. It is November 2016, and Manufacto, the Skills Factory is born. A gateway to artisan trades and their creative gestures. Following a period of reflection and discussions with the Paris education authority, the programme has been developed in collaboration with the Compagnons du Devoir apprentice scheme and the Tour de France, and in partnership with the École Camondo, a school for the decorative arts in Paris. All the stakeholders share the same desire: to raise appreciation for manual trades among young people and teachers.
The first edition of the program is dedicated to the trades of cabinet making and leatherwork. It comprises a cycle of twelve term-time workshops on practical techniques, held primarily in the classroom and including a factory visit. An initial observation phase allows the pupils to learn about the different stages involved in manufacturing, to discover the artisans’ gestures, and the tools and technical operations that they demand. A reflection on the role of objects, forms and materials. The sessions that follow are devoted to putting this new knowledge into practice, to learning gestures and skills, to applying assembly techniques and finishing touches. Little by little, the special designs – the work of professionals at the École Camondo – start to take shape. Each student takes pride in crafting his or her own object. The contemporary models are specially tailored to the age of the pupils: a wooden lamp for the 9 year-olds; a leather night-light for the 10 year-olds; a smartphone speaker for the 13 year-olds; a pouch and stool for the 14-year-olds; a multifunction pouch for the 16 year-olds.
Resolutely forward-thinking, Manufacto is a gamechanger for both pupils and the artisan trades. The success of this pilot year has laid the foundations for a more expansive second edition in 2017, when it will be rolled out at the national level.