Sustainable product design local materials
All images © Dorian Etienne and Cordélia Faure
Designers Dorian Etienne and Cordélia Faure have been collaborating on projects that explore materials, traditional practices and blending them with modern design. Their extensive research focuses on sustainable practices that leave minimal impact on the planet.
Sustainable product design local materials
Caotun Lamp made using loofah
Both of you have collaborated on several projects, could you tell us what is the inspiration  behind designing products that make a statement with design as well as the responsible choice of  materials?
Dorian: It is always a pleasure to collaborate with Cordélia, we complement each other very well in terms of technical skills or design aim. The various experiments and projects that we realize together are always deeply enriched by our two designers outlook, by this creative “alichemy” which naturally results from it.
The raw material of creation is the world around us. We create and take inspiration from our experiences, our exchanges with other people, our passions … from what makes us vibrate internally.

Thus I take my inspiration from my environment : whatever the place or the moment I always have in a part of my head a different look on things, a kind of continual questioning. A ramble in the forest, a film extract, a failed drawing, a material experiment. Thoughts intersect, mix up, reflect itselves and often generate intuitions and new ideas. Then remains the hard step … sort it out!

Cordelia: I think it is essential to deploy the the childish creativity within us. That means to continue to be amazed, to be astonished and to question the raison d’être of things around us.
Dorian and I have at heart to honor traditional skills, often neglected. We like to reinvest them in our projects in order to give them a place in a world filled with endless series of identical products.
Thus, we feel the need to return to that concrete beauty of the unique, in which the object is produced by skilled hands who charge it with meaning and history.
It’s in this perspective that we are working today, by experimenting locally, by collaborating without borders … and by creating innovative products, true testimonies of our cultural diversity.
Sustainable product design local materials
Banana-Material experiments for Nuclée
From banana fiber to loofah, your choice of materials are exceptionally remarkable. Could you tell us more about your research on materials, and how you have come to work with these?

Dorian and Cordélia :

What is fascinating about travel (in the general sense) is that we become other, we become “the stranger”.
This new configuration inevitably brings us to carry a different perspective. And this look lands on differences, habits, details that have become invisible to the locals. This strangeness acts for us as a “breeding ground for imagination” which allows ideas to germinate spontaneously !
During our shared residence at the National Taiwan Craft Research Institute (NTCRI), we were immersed in a totally unknown culture, that we had to understand and tame.
Throughout our encounters and our discoveries, we lingered on stories, details, techniques and materials. In fact, we just kept an open mindset throughout these six months of discovery. Its allowed us to prospect around local issues, to carry out numerous experiments and fundamental research. Most of the time we realize these first steps without having a specific purpose in mind, simply letting the territory and the material “speak” by themselves. Thus we discover dissonances or unused properties that let us imagine new applications.
Our first big meeting was with the Kavalan aboriginal tribe, based near Hualien, on the east coast of Taiwan. We had the chance to share their way of life and their banana fiber know-how. It is this exchange that inspired us Nuclée, a luminaire revaluing the waste of local banana plantations by creating a new material with amazing properties and aesthetics.
Passing by Lukang village, we notice, in a small market, an old lady who sells loofahs on the ground. Out of curiosity we buy some and we start our empirical research on this intriguing material. This fibrous material is very present in Asia and Taiwan : every grandmother has it in their small garden and they use it as exfoliating sponges. They are picked and dried in the sun until only the fiber network remains. Learning that loofahs reproduce quickly with a low ecological impact, we decide to explore its properties to give it new uses. Three projects will result from this discovery : the Lukang eco-chair, the Changhua wine boxes, as well as the Caotun lights.
Of course, it is essential for us to be part of a virtuous approach in symbiosis with the project territory, by taking into account all the underlying environmental and social issues.

Sustainable product design local materials
Changhua wine case made using loofah
Sustainable product design local materials
Changhua wine case made using loofah
What are some recent projects you’ve been working on?
Dorian: We recently won several awards with the Nuclée project : the New York « Best of Year Award » 2020, as well as laureate of the Berlin « Green Product Award » 2021. On this occasion, we are producing a very limited, numbered and signed series of this luminous piece of art. It will be available in three sizes (35cm / 50cm / 1 metre) from July on this website.
Today, on my side, I still continue my dialogues with local craftmen. It is essential for me to include them completely in the design step, where we enrich each other. But also to participate in the manufacture by their side, to gradually learn techniques, gestures and tricks. Each new project reinforces my designer knowledge and skills.
Thereby, I am currently working on a floor lamp project inspired by the Japanese technique of Shou Sugi Ban or “burnt wood” with a metal craftsman based in Paris. And I’m also working on an amazing furniture project between my bamboo expertise and the practice of a Toulouse glassblower … to be continued!
Sustainable product design local materials
Sustainable product design local materials
Métamorph'oil - Cordélia Faure
CordéliaFor my part, I recently worked on a collaborative project with Chloé PILLON called Metamorph’oil. It’s a service to reuse used sunflower oil to protect and embellish interior and exterior wood.
Indeed, about 230 billion of cooking oil were consumed each year worldwide. The oil clogs the pipes. Therefore, some cities are collecting this ‘greasy waste’ in order to burn it and ideally, to make biofuel. Another issue relates to wood as nowadays most wood intended for outdoor use are treated with substances containing heavy metals such as Copper-Chromium-Arsenic, which are highly polluting. Our proposal is to replace these substances by the use of environmentally friendly sunflower oils.
Sustainable product design local materials
Experiments with loofah for Changhua wine cases, Caotun Lamps and Lukang Chairs

To travel is to go from oneself to oneself, passing through others”

The entire world is changing quite swiftly due to COVID. How do you think the pandemic will affect the field of design?
Cordélia: Of course, the Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our design practice and has slowed down or stopped many projects.
But design has to adapt to each new issues and to a contemporary world in constant motion. It is already adapting to the new problems raised by this planetary crisis by trying to respond to them in the best possible way.
Indeed, the intrinsic purpose of design is to “sweeten life”. It is oriented and inspired by everything : social, scientific, environmental and even political circles! In fact, design is a kind of tool for reflection and innovation.

Dorian: There is a Tuareg proverb that has always inspired me : “To travel is to go from oneself to oneself, passing through others”.
Everyday I wake up, I feel the need to do things that have meaning, to come back to the local, to create products that respect people and the environment. This pandemic has upset our way of life, the multiple confinements have considerably reduced our living spaces, our exchanges with the world. I think today we all need to dream, even more than before.
Since the beginning of my design practice, I deeply think that my designer’s mission is to make people dream ; to bring them into a mood, a culture, an unknown territory, an amazing trip … through the object. By being inspired by the richness of the world’s cultural heritages, I create sensitive objects, witnesses of our wonderful cultural diversity.
It could be summed up in one sentence : “Show me how the world can be beautiful !”
During the first confinement, in March 2020, I created the Pays Rêvés (Dreamed Countries) collection. This series of graphics for rugs and coverings is inspired by sky views of distant and inspiring countries. These imaginary escape-spaces invite to dream of travel, meetings and exotic discoveries. The mountains, the coasts, the colors of the land and the oceans, create unique paintings of each territory.
What are few things that you’d like designers across the world to acknowledge and/or consider? Are there any ideas or suggestions for other young product designers like you
Dorian & Cordélia :
We don’t really have the legitimacy to give advice to other designers, because we still have a lot to discover.
But if we have to share some with you, I think the first would be to take into account and analyze carefully all the issues surrounding the project. To make it as beneficial and respectful as possible : impact on the environment, on the territory and on the local people, economic criteria, product post-use, manufacturing means, …
But above all, if there is one thing that we relate to, it is to believe in your dreams and not to leave them aside, to be bold while keep your feet on the ground, to stay curious and dreamy, to remain always hopeful. Especially when you start as an independent designer or create a design studio … you must believe it with all your strength !
PS : “Make your difference a strength … and cultivate it !”

Cordélia Faure

After a product design degree at the Ecole Boulle, Cordélia FAURE went to Taiwan for a six-month residency at the NTCRI. She discovered there traditional craft techniques and experienced a new design practice rooted in the territory. Now in training at ENSCI Les Ateliers, she continues this approach while acquiring a wider awareness of other design application fields.

Sustainable Product designer

Dorian Etienne

Product designer graduated from the Boulle School, Dorian ETIENNE created in 2019 his design studio based in Paris. He combines in his works craftsmanship and design, tradition and modernity. Anchored in near or distant territories, he observes cultures and histories, techniques and materials. The richness of the world's cultural heritages inspires him throughout his work. Following this lead thread, braided of Human and Nature, he creates sensible and sensitive products : “objets métissés”. Furthermore, experimentation is at the heart of his creation. The new features of the material are his library of ideas ; then he invents new uses. Fundamentally his approach is respectful of the environment, from design to production.

Projects by the designers on DesignNuance