Design Exquis

The Surrealist Exquisite Corpse (Cadavre Exquis) concept is given new life as a modern design challenge.



Design Exquis

Florian Dussopt and Géraldine Vessière are the French double act behind Design Exquis. The duo - one part designer, one part journalist – are passionate about bringing unexpected collaborations together while exploring the art of storytelling through design.

What is Design Exquis (and how do we pronounce it)?

Design Exquis (to be pronounced /ɛkski/) is a series of exhibitions that explore the roots of creativity. It's inspired by the collective method of creation developed by the Surrealists, known as Exquisite Corpse (Cadavre Exquis). We choose an object to begin with, and we ask a designer to respond to it by creating something new. With the new object created, we ask a second designer to take it as a source of inspiration to conceive a new object. And so forth. What you get is a chain of ideas taking unexpected path. We are surprised and amazed by the result every time.

Why did you want to do it ?

We come from different backgrounds but we share the same point of view on design and creativity. We see design as a great medium to tell stories and to transmit a message.

We wanted to create a dialogue between designers using the language of design. We wanted them to communicate only through what they do and we wanted to provoke unexpected collaboratio between designers who wouldn’t normally work together.

What were the main challenges?

The whole exhibition can be seen as a challenge. It's what makes it interesting. One challenge is the very tight deadline in which the designers have to invent, conceive and produce their work. They have about one month each.

Another is to convince the designers to play the game without knowing who the other players are. It's a sort of blind date for them. In a world where the control of one's image and reputation is important, some designers are harder to convince than others...

What were you looking for when you chose these four designers?

Given that the deadline is so grueling, we chose experienced designers who are hands-on and can produce great work very quickly.

What do you want people to take away from the exhibition?

We would like them to understand how much anything can be a starting point to create.

Other projects do you have in the pipeline?

We are working on a third edition of Design Exquis, with a new starting point and other designers. It will launch in September for the London Design Festival and be shown at the Roca London Gallery, a space designed by Zaha Hadid.

Florian is working on a new installation mixing haptic robot, 3D sound and fine art in collaboration with sound artist Nick Phillips and researchers at Middlesex University.

What trends do you expect to see at Clerkenwell Design Week?

Clerkenwell Design Week is a good reflection of what’s happening in design worldwide, so we are expecting some sustainably produce objects, LED lights, natural materials carved with CNC robot technologies in addition to great craftsmanship…

What other projects or exhibitions are you looking forward to seeing at Clerkenwell Design Week?

Géraldine: Three days will barely be enough to see all what is to be seen and this edition of Clerkenwell Design Week seems very rich and interesting. As I like Cameron Sinclair's approach to design and architecture, I'm curious to see the huts his charity has created and how people interact with it. I'm also interested in the Making Designers' exhibition as I can see there are some common themes with our exhibition such as inspiration and creativity.

Florian: Making Designers exhibition looks really interesting especially after the #includedesign campaign. Giles Miller Studio’s installation just at the entrance of our exhibition, in front of St John’s gate, will add a brilliant touch to the public space too.

The results of Design Exquis are being exhibited at Clerkenwell Design Week in the Museum of the Order of St. John, St. John’s Lane, London EC1M 4DA (21-23 May, 2013).