What happens when children have the supplies, encouragement, and freedom to create? Design Brut | Philia & Kids provides a glimpse at the answer. The non-profit initiative by Galerie Philia hopes to inspire and engage children from around the world through design. From conception to creation, children from Breil-sur-Roya primary school in France developed the designs in the inaugural exhibition of Design Brut | Philia & Kids, to exhibit in Paris from Nov. 10 to Dec. 8 this year.
Galerie Philia’s founder Ygaël Attali conceived the initiative based on French artist Jean Dubuffet’s notion of “Art Brut,” or “raw art.” The idea is that art created by those outside of the academic tradition of fine art—from children to prisoners to members of marginalized communities—is more honest and emotional than art by trained creatives.
Thus the Philia & Kids workshop introduced 6 and 7 year-olds to sculptural furniture design, led by contemporary designers Antoine Behaghel and Alexis Foiny of Studio BehaghelFoiny. The studio is known for experimenting with texture and color to create unusual and nonconformist designs. Under their artistic direction, the children started with pen and paper to develop shapes which became real sculptures made by Studio BehaghelFoiny and a cabinetmaker using local olive wood.
Ygaël says: “The [definition of furniture design] emerges gradually through the drawings of the children and their physical incarnation. If raw art is defined by the unadulterated approach and absence of limits in the creative field, it seems here that functionality—the necessary notion of proportion and balance—is maintained, making it a key component of sculptural design.”
Upon the completion of the five-month workshop, the children’s furniture were displayed for the community in a local chapel. A film documenting the workshop will open alongside the exhibition in Paris, and following the show’s end, the one-off works will be available for purchase on Galerie Philia’s website. The proceeds will be reinvested to launch the second iteration of Design Brut | Philia & Kids in the Dominican Republic in 2023.