Every two years since 2014, the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès has invited craftspeople, designers and engineers to take part in the Skills Academy. With a strong emphasis on collective intelligence, this programme – emblematic of the Foundation’s commitments – aims to undertake broad explorations of universal materials by bringing together prospective visions and the transmission of skills.
An adept of glass, designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance was the pedagogical director of the fifth edition of the Skills Academy. By selecting this transdisciplinary theme, the Foundation sought to approach the arts of glassmaking in all their richness and complexity. The Academy looked to (re)discover and explore the historical, symbolic and aesthetic resonance of glass, as well as its chemical and physical properties and its economic and social dimensions.
To this end, the Foundation devised an ad hoc programme that enabled participants to enrich their knowledge through monthly talks bringing together leading specialists. Across a series of seven morning sessions, artists, curators, academics, manufacturers, designers, architects and craftspeople were invited to exchange their points of view, their experiences and their technical and historical expertise around glassmaking. The first five sessions took place online and were open to all, via a broadcast on the Foundation’s YouTube channel. A film screening and guided visits of sites in Paris were also offered to the public, extending this transversal approach to the material.
In parallel, a series of masterclasses reserved for the Academy participants allowed these professionals to discover sites specialising in glass production, preservation and research. Finally, they were invited to put into practice the skills acquired through these encounters and explore prospective avenues in a collective workshop led by the Academy director, Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance, at the International Glass and Visual Arts Research Centre (CIRVA) in Marseille. Here, the participants worked with industrial glass from bottles as part of a craft-based approach to recycling infused with the context of the port city.
The results of this workshop will be exhibited at the site where the research took place, as part of the Art-o-rama contemporary art fair. From 25 to 27 August 2022, the public will be able to discover the Academy participants’ five experimental approaches to transforming industrial glass, incorporating echoes of Marseille’s history, traditions and emblematic local references. This workshop showcase forms part of the International Year of Glass declared by the United Nations.