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issue 43 - April/May 2018
CURVE magazine cover April/May 2018
Push  Design  

ARTISANAL SPIRIT

Marlene Huissoud's Intriguing Use of Natural Material

French designer Marlene Huissoud has been working on experimental pieces using natural materials in work that merges merges art and design. Is it a sculpture, or a piece of furniture ?That very question is the at the core of Huissoud's style. Nature, natural products and an artisanal approach to design define this incredible creative. Here we talk to Huissoud about bees, consumerism and design.

How would you best describe your work?
All my work has always been very instinctive. I do draw a lot but in a very abstract mindset. A shape is mostly determined by the materials, because the material and the provenance of it, is kind of dictating itself to me. I never really determined who I am, because I still don't know and don't have the urge to define what I do. I really enjoy the fact that people call it Art or Design. Sometimes a piece is a vase, or a sculpture depending of the viewer.

You work with insects, what does that mean exactly?
It is all starting with my family background, the French Alps, my father's beehives, the nature and I guess the digestion, all of that created what I do now. All the pieces from the 'Cocoons' collection for example, are made with bio materials from the insect world. The wardrobe, one of my biggest pieces so far, is built using an oak frame which is then burnt and varnished with natural honeybee bio resin. Then thousands of discarded silkworm cocoons are added to the oak base and are then varnished with a thin layer of honeybee bio resin. Closed, the wardrobe has no readability, you can't really tell what it is, if it is a functional piece or a sculpture, but then you open the doors and you can indeed use it as a wardrobe but if you want to see it as a sculpture, you can.

Tell us about your way of blowing propolis using the same basic technique as glass to produce wonderful black vessels?
When I started the project 'From Insects' it was during my Master's in 'Material Futures' at Central Saint Martin's in London. I wanted to push natural materials to their extremes and the propolis had very similar properties to glass. I have tried all the different glass techniques with the honeybee bio resin and after a few failures we succeeded of blowing the propolis as you would glass by working at lower temperatures.

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