Meet the Maker: Amandine David
‘I’m Amandine David. I’m a designer and researcher based in Brussels. My work is located at the intersections between traditional crafts and digital manufacturing. Working with craft masters, makers, new technology experts, I develop collaborative fabrication methods, material researches, and hybrid aesthetics. I usually start a project from observing technical know-hows, in order to reveal similarities and connections in between fields we would consider non-related or even opposed at first glance, such as basket weaving and 3D-printing, or hand-weaving and coding. By revealing those common points, my goal is to invite people to reconsider their perception of new technologies and handcrafts. I believe that millennial techniques can nourish the aesthetics and applications of digital manufacturing, and vice-versa. I am also the co-founder of Hors Pistes, a nomadic residency program that initiates encounters between craftsmen and designers and explores the value of trans-disciplinary and cross-cultural collaborations.’
What are you currently working on?
‘Together with Esmé Hofman, basket weaving master, and Joris Van Tubergen, 3D printing artisan, we are developing a new chapter of the project Crossing Parallels. It all started as my graduation project in Social Design Master at Design Academy Eindhoven in 2018. We are currently developing an hybrid fabrication technique between basket weaving and 3D printing, using flexible 3D-printing filaments and a tool we developed: the rotary 3D printer. Thanks to the European project Worth Partnership we are now producing a collection of unique pieces.
I’m also contributing to the project Atlas of Lost Finds initiated by Unfold Studio and the National Museum of Brazil. In 2019, the museum suffered a fire that destroyed more than 90% of of the museum’s 20 million artefacts. I am part of an international team of makers, researchers, ceramicists, designers, working on the re-materialisation of a piece: the Felideo stirrup vessel. Starting from 3D scans, we use digital fabrication methods to produce replicas of the damaged artefact. The goal is not to produce exact replicas but rather to gather a collection of piece narrating different storytelling in relation to the original piece, while interrogating the possibilities provided by digital tools in the field of heritage preservation.’
‘Next to that i’m getting ready for the exhibition Order of Operations curated by Camilla Colombo. It will include pieces of the project Weaving Code I developed within Format (Z33) and my residency at FabLab IMAL. The exhibition will interrogate the abstract way we learn about mathematics and reveal their applications within the field of art. Weaving Code demonstrates the mathematical thinking that exists behind hand-weaving, and its relation to coding.’
What is your passion within your profession?
‘My passion is to learn from collaborating with craftsmen. As a designer, I like to see myself as an apprentice in a craft workshop. I can ask naive questions in order to raise ideas. What first triggers my interest for craftsmanship and for craft-design collaborations is the ability to dialogue with someone through material. I had the opportunity to work with a foreign artisan with whom I shared no common language. All along the project, we progressively replaced the person in charge of the translation by gestures, signs or clay models. Besides objects, such collaborations lead to the creation of a unique material language, which I find very exciting.’
Where do you get inspiration from?
‘I like the figure of the apprentice, described by the sociologists Jean Lave & Etienne Wenger. Trained in a workshop, the apprentice first observes the profession before understanding its language, its tacit codes and to feel able to interact and take part in the process. I like to see each craft as a culture in itself. I am also deeply influenced by the ideas of the Martinican philosopher and poet Édouard Glissant. He wrote a lot about identity and the concept of creolisation. The Creole language was an unexpected creation, generated by the encounter between French and African languages imported in the Caribbean during the slave trade. Glissant invites us to consider identity not as as single root, but as a rhizome: our identity is our constant search for new connections. I also admire the work of Anni Albers, textile artist from the Bauhaus. Weaving was not really her calling, but the sexist division of the workshops at that time forced her to join this workshop. Qualified as a decorative art, Albers turned weaving into a functional technology in relation to architecture, via researches on acoustics for example. For her, textile was an art in itself. She develop a mathematical and coded aesthetic, revealing the complex beauty of weaving, which really touches me.’
What are the challenges within your work?
‘This is an interesting challenge for me to explain that my projects and my whole practice are not always leading to the production of functional objects, that I am not a problem-solving designer. I rather work in a dynamic similar to fundamental research. I develop tools, material samples and hybrid production techniques. That often raises interesting conversations about the economical value and meaning of work at large.’
What is your future dream?
‘I want to continue being an apprentice: learning new things, techniques, meeting new people and challenging my practice as a designer. I would like my studio to evolve into a place, both physical and digital, made for multidisciplinary collaboration, and for the production of knowledge. It would connect a dynamic network of practitioners from various cultures and fields. Through multiplying collaborations, my goal is to research and challenge the way we learn and share knowledge, in relation to craft and design.’
How do you see the position of the maker for the future?
‘I think that makers are storytellers. A piece of craft is never only the result of a technical achievement. It contains stories, tells about its maker, its context of production – environmental, social, political-. I think that makers have the power to invent and share alternative storytelling through the production of objects, of interactions, of collaborations, etc. Those are much necessary in the construction of a different and meaningful perspective. As Donna Haraway puts it ‘We need other kinds of stories’.’
What can Crafts Council Nederland do for you?
‘It is thanks to a coiling workshop they initiated that I had the chance to meet Esmé Hofman few years ago, and start our collaboration. I also hope to collaborate with Crafts Council to reveal the potentials of digital crafts and together reflect on the evolution of the definition of craftsmanship.’