Since French archivist Hervé Lemoine took the reins of the organization in 2018, the Mobilier National has sought to engage with a wider public and give greater visibility to the nation’s contemporary design scene. Now in the second year of an active acquisitions campaign, it has fielded potential new entries from 232 designers for just over 50 coveted spots in the nation’s collection.
If the question is: What is French design in 2022?, the resounding answer seems to be: Not necessarily what you’d expect.
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“We did lots of publicity about this initiative to interest designers and creators who might not know about this type of acquisitions program,” Lemoine says. “There was no age limit, only that they worked in France, French or not. We were looking for original pieces, already existing, that had been produced under their control entirely.”
Variety among those entries was paramount. “We need tables, desks, chairs, pieces that can be used,” Lemoine explains. “The question is, How do you create original pieces today with a strong presence and personality? There was such a diversity of styles, forms, and colors.”
The biggest surprise of the campaign arrived, Lemoine says, when the majority of entries came from areas outside the nation’s capital. “Seventy percent of the selected designers are working outside of Paris,” he says. “To have so many candidates from ateliers we didn’t know about was a discovery for us, and we will now follow them and see what they continue to do.”