5 minutes with … Marlène Huissoud

Tomorrow marks the first day of London Design Festival. This year the LDF 2020 offers a new wave of art within the capital as artists have come together post-global pandemic with installations and exhibitions that reflect our sense of creativity and purpose as humans.

Because we love all things art at Push PR, we spoke with French experimental designer Marlène Huissoud about her installation found at the heart of Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross.

Marlene’s work questions our way of making by creating purposeful pieces that ethically challenge the properties of natural resources and that defy the role of design in society and its use nowadays. Self aware and progressive, Marlène’s work balances nature’s natural disorder with Man’s disordered need to find meaning in everything …

Can you tell us about your process when creating a new piece?
We often start projects from scratch. Not knowing where we go is an exciting direction into our process. We do work a lot with bio materials so most of the time we start the projects by a crazy experimental kitchen where there is no boundaries. We try, we fail, we try, try and analyse what is working or not, it is really like a kitchen where you are looking for the best recipe.

Do you have a particular artist or era that you look up to?
I have always been fascinated by Raw Art, one of my favourite museums is the Musée de l’Art Brut in Lausanne. I can’t even explain, there is something so pure in this movement that I’m really moved by it.

What piece would you like to be remembered for?
It would be ‘The Chair’ from the Collection Please Stand By presented in 2019 at the London Design Festival. I like the message of this piece a lot, people from the Design and Art field were asking me when I would design my first chair and I decided to listen to them but to not design a chair for humans, but for insects. Design is a real tool to shake society, and it is not only meant for humans, but there is an entire little insect world out there that needs us to take care of them.

Do you interact with the digital world / technology in your work?
I try to. But my work is very hands on and it is very very rare that I draw a 3D of the work before doing it. When I create it is spontaneous and I have difficulties adding a digital tool into my process as I have the impression it will minimise my freedom.

What visual references do you draw upon in your work?
I think my biggest inspiration is my childhood. I grew up in the French Alps surrounded by nature. And of course my father who was a beekeeper really inspired me since I was very little. Everything that I do is connected to these experiences as a child, nature is part of me.

How has the global pandemic changed your perspective when it comes to your work?
The pandemic has been an important time for everybody to slow down and reflect on the way we live. I didn’t make a lot physically during the quarantine, but I thought a lot about what was important to me to spread as a message. What was my role as a designer and artist? That’s why for once I have decided to speak to humans and not insects for the London Design Festival.

Tell us a bit more about the installation which you have created for London Design Festival.
‘Unity’ is born after the pandemic. I have noticed that we were developing our own individual bubbles as humans, not connected as much to others in the way we use to as we couldn’t. Our interactions with the external world became very digital. The installation is composed by a main sculpture which has a very abstract shape, a mix of an animal and a tree, that is standing in the Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross. Foot pumps surround the sculpture and visitors are invited to pump the system to make the sculpture breathe. It is a message of hope, very straight forward, we have to be together with strength and efforts to change the system.

Your piece is entitled ‘Unity’, what do you think brings people together in art?
Art is developing the imagination of people. It can give you a new vision, and offer you a new future. You can escape from reality with art, that’s why it can bring people together. Art gives hope for the future, even if it’s not a reality.

Any words of wisdom for young artists?
Never be scared of failing and always follow your instinct.

Don’t forget to head over to Coal Drops Yard from tomorrow to experience Marlène’s ‘Unity’ installation as part of this year’s London Design Festival.

Push Team x

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