François Azambourg: Légèretés Manifestes
The Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris presents an in-depth look at the imaginative and prolific career of French designer François Azambourg. The exhibition features nearly 200 objects – from lightweight mobiles to prototypes to iconic design pieces.
In a time when the world can often feel quite heavy, François Azambourg provides us with a touch of lightness in his solo exhibition at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris. Titled, Légèretés Manifestes, which translates into ‘lightness’, the exhibition is an invitation into the designer’s unique creative universe and brings together nearly 200 works including: furniture, vases, lighting and mobiles, coming from his own collection as well as those of the museum itself, the Centre Pompidou, Cnap and private collections.
As a child, Azambourg wanted to become a pilot, having a desire to be high up in the clouds and free. He became a multi-talented designer instead, yet this idea of freedom, lightness and movement is an integral part of his practice. With a childlike curiosity and sense of experimentation, using also aviation, painting, sculpture and music as guiding inspirations, Azambourg moves between different media with ease, always keeping a minimal impact in terms of material waste. “Rooted in constant search of lightness, economy of means and simplicity, his approach is open and without constraint,” states the press release. The exhibition installation was also designed with minimal waste as a main principal, using upcycled materials throughout.
Azambourg’s furniture designs can literally be lightweight, but they can also be light in terms of the amount of materials used and the construction methods. His series “light structures”– inspired by the architecture of airplane wings – reflects this ingenuity. “Very Nice Chair” (2003), very closely resembles model airplane construction, with its birch plywood and balsa wood frame. It only weighs 700 grams and its design allows it to be easily packed for lesser shipping output. The “Very Nice” series gives an insight into young Azambourg, busy gluing together model-trains, planes and other objects, discovering how things work and how parts come together and finding the most economic way to make it function perfectly. His idea for the ‘soft sandwich’ design, in which soft foam is compressed between two wooden pieces has led to a series of contemporary furniture pieces such as: “La Belle et le Clochard” and the “Chauffeuse Bois-Mousse” chair. In others works, it might be playing with origami and folding techniques to find new ways to design a chair.
Along with lightness is a sense of transparency – including how he designs and builds. He is not afraid to reveal his methods and approach, as if reaffirming the purpose of the object at hand. His collaboration with the Centre International d’Art Verrier (CIAV) in Miesenthal, led to a series of glass vases using a mould made from a Douglas fir tree, a common species of tree in the area. Each vase reveals the traces within the wood itself, branches, knots, grain… the vase becomes a part of the surrounding nature. Nature is a constant reference in Azambourg’s work – beehives inspire designs such as a clock and feathers feature in a series of playful mobile sculptures.
Experimentation and failed attempts are essential stepping stones in his process and the exhibition brings together a collection of his drawings, sketches, documents and models, offering insight into his creative process and constant use of tinkering and playing to arrive at the final object. Azambourg has collaborated with numerous high-end brands such as Ligne Roset and Hermès, and has participated in several important residencies including CIAV and the Villa Kujoyama. Légèretés Manifestes provides an intimate look into this dynamic, multi-talented designer’s archive.
Légèretés Manifestes is on view at the Museum of Decorative Arts, Paris through July 2, 2023.