A material library, or a designer’s dreamland, is indeed a magical place. ArchiExpo e-Mag visited Cité du Design’s materials library in Saint-Etienne, France. Inspiration, innovation and human connection all play a part in the system here. We later phoned Alexandre Peutin, head of the materials library, to better understand how they work and what’s coming up.
ArchiExpo e-Mag: How would you describe the materials library?
Alexandre Peutin: It’s a place for research and study dedicated to materials and a link between professionals. We bring people together to reconsider existing materials in order to create innovation.
ArchiExpo e-Mag: Can you give an example of the partnership between the materials library and ESDL for Cité du Design’s Biennial?
Alexandre Peutin: This partnership allows design students to work with a specific company, where they learn its savoir faire and develop an eco-design. Our role is connecting the students and the companies. It’s good for the company because they get to discover design, a concept they’re not necessarily familiar with, and often this gives them more desire to work with designers in the future. Most companies end up working with the student once they’ve become professional designers. Most of the project prototypes will be presented during our Biennial in 2017.
Design student Vanja Basic is paired with kitchen and bathroom company Gomet Granit which specializes in marble. This will be one of the surprise projects presented at the Biennial in March.
ArchiExpo e-Mag: Do you have any new methods for connecting people together for innovation?
Alexandre Peutin: We’re starting another student program where we mix designers and engineers by group. They’ll be working with specific materials and will have one month to develop a project. We’ll then get business students involved to study the economic feasibility of the project, and later connect with manufacturers and brands who could be interested in taking the project further.