Ariane Prin - Interview
6 August 2014
Ariane Prin is a product designer from the Champagne region of France, now working in Hackney Wick, London. Her studio is home to a wide variety of joyously messy, dirty and noisy projects, ranging from water cups inspired by public fountains, to a shop featuring products made from local recycled waste. All of her products originate in their specific social and environmental contexts, with materials chosen for their relation to the locality.
How would you describe what you do?
My focus lies in making site-specific connections between human activities and environmental principles. I find my inspiration for projects by looking around me; I analyse the place or the area I am working in, the people or the community that lives and works there, and the materials I can find easily. I also take into consideration the culture and the needs of the local people.
I like to experiment, discover things and learn through my own making, but I also like to collaborate with people outside of the design world. This has led to collaborations with a wide range of people, including Japanese craftsmen, bakers, hairdressers, acrobats, biologists and engineers in environmental technology.
What tools and materials do you use in your work? Do you have a favorite material and is there a tool you couldn't do without?
I don't have any particular favourites; it's always changing. I had my 'wood dust period' for the pencil project, then I went into porcelain for a residency in Poland, and now I'm experimenting with metal dust from local key-cutter shops. Of course - the tools change according to the materials I am working with.
Apart from that, I don't want to sound too geeky, but I don't know what I would do without my phone. It's an extra brain - like a smart, pocket-sized Swiss Army Knife.
Can you remember the first thing you made?
I can't precisely remember the first thing, but I do remember spending quite a lot of time as a kid down in the basement of my house. My mother was very good at keeping well-separated and organised boxes of various materials for recycling down there; it was like going into Ali Baba's cave. Then I would find all of my tools one floor up in the medical equipment drawers of my father's doctors' practice. He would have so many different types of scissors, pliers, tapes, and cohesive bandages in every color. There were probably a few ugly sculptures that came out of that.
What do you feel the role of makers and designers is today?
I believe design is about exploring the social and natural opportunities around us and taking advantage of every situation. Making, yes, but with some sort of proportion and common sense.
Can you tell us what you're presenting with SMP at LDF?
The pencils made entirely from recycled materials! Visitors will learn how to make their own drawing pencils in just a few minutes. They'll get their hands a bit dirty but will know how to create this essential every day tool in reward. That's something I love about SMP. There's this great DIY spirit encouraging people to be more creative and raising awareness of how things are made.
Images courtesy of Ariane Prin