The first instalment of the Skills Academy was dedicated to wood, and was directed by designer Patrick Jouin. In 2015, for this second edition, twenty-one professionals come together around another primordial material: earth. What future and what sustainability does this material promise? At the root of the development of every culture, the earth secretes materials as diverse as clay, silica, and kaolin. Earth is present in numerous everyday items, yet also features in unique and exceptional pieces. Melding sensuality and technique, earth offers near-infinite formal variations. Though it is often sculpted through ancestral processes, it is also a field of innovation that promises solutions for the preservation of environment.
A nine-month-long programme brings together ten artisans, six designers, and five engineers of all ages seeking to hone and enrich their skills in an environment that facilitates dialogue and emulation. This singular moment in their career enables them to explore the multiple dimensions of a material that is integral to their practice in the company of leading specialists. The Academy participants share and extend their knowledge and skills through a series of conferences (open to the public, reservation required) overseen by authorities in the field. They examine historical practices as well as more contemporary developments, encountering artistic approaches and the latest techniques in domains as various as architecture and agriculture. They also attend masterclasses led by experts, and share and compare their practices in a workshop. Finally, as is the case for each edition of the Academy, the collective reflection is extended through an encyclopedic volume dedicated to the year’s theme, co-published with Actes Sud.