Matières, objets et manufactures d'Europe

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Matières, objets et manufactures du continent européen.

Matières, objets et manufactures du continent européen.

Matières, objets et manufactures du continent européen.

Matières, objets et manufactures du continent européen.

La Maison de Commerce

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T006 FRA18

Territory: Normandie, France
Date: 11-14 février 2018
Meteorology: neige
Transport: Partner
Copilote: Erik de Laurens, SCALE

Erik de Laurens is the inventor of 100% fish scale plastic. He trained in Lausanne and London and directed the material library at Foster + Partners before founding SCALE in 2017 in Paris. Profession: advising architects, designers and industrialists in the choice of processing and development of innovative materials. Erik de Laurens is a generalist. He knows natural materials, ancestral techniques, ecology and history. He stands resolutely on the side of research and advanced technologies.

From day one, Erik de Laurens understands the work of La Maison de Commerce.
Half of his family, which is also a little bit ours, are Norman.

We meet at his parents’ house. A little house on the prairie, an old farm overlooking rolling valleys at the end of a beautiful path in the heart of the Pays d’Auge. There are horses, donkeys, a fire, photographs, drawings and paintings, small comforting bedrooms and a large round table made for long breakfasts.

First day: it’s snowing.
We drive carefully to our meetings whilst talking about the why and how of our companies. The conversation lasts 3 days. It is fed by our encounters, observations and impressions.
We prepared this trip together by sharing ideas, exchanging inspiring images and confronting leads. Normandy is big.

One subject is of particular interest to us: flax. The Pays de Caux cultivates 50% of European linseed. The land, the humidity, the sunshine and the sea breeze: all conditions are met. Flax flowers here in June. The Terre de Lin cooperative plays a central role between producers and scutchers of the region. Other than that, we quickly learn that the work of spinning has been completely delocalised since the 70s, and the economic scale of the sector largely exceeds its local dimension. However, our treasure hunt proves instructive: we contact the Masters of Linen (the European organisation of scutchers) whose new president has just been named but also associations, shop windows, shops and farmers.

Elsewhere, we scour the Bresle Valley and the Villedieu-les-Poêles region, moving in zigzags from Dieppe to Granville via Bayeux, Varengeville-sur-Mer, Lisieux and Thury-Harcourt. We can’t go everywhere, so we have to choose.

Last on our list: brickworks, pottery, glassware, brassware, basketwork, enamelling and cutlery. And the Alabaster coast, just for pleasure.

We learned how difficult it is to pass on the savoir-faire. Heirs or buyers, many are discouraged. In 5 or 10 years, half of the companies we contacted or met will be gone. It is a fact. On the motorway returning home, we swing between the need to find solutions and the need just to let go. And that’s fine.


Notes for later:
– a lacemaker is paid the equivalent of 4 Euros per hour
– return to the woods of Moutiers
– L’Huitrière in Pourville
– the watercress from Veules-les-Roses
– dig into a Pont L’Évêque cheese, starting in the middle, cutting all the way around and sticking the pieces back together
– « J’ai vu les champs de l’Helvétie, Et ses chalets et ses glaciers / J’ai vu le ciel de l’Italie, Et Venise et ses gondoliers » (Ma Normandie, Frédéric Bérat, 1836)
– « je déplace le feu »
– the Haras du Pin was founded on the order of the Roi Soleil in 1715, the year of his death
– « c’est la vie »


Merci beaucoup
Les Vallons, Chantal et Vincent de Laurens, Garance Bocobza, Arturo Franco


Manufacturers : L’ATELIER DU CUIVRE