Fourteen French students from the ESDL spent a week at the Cégep Beauce-Appalaches where, with local interior design students, they worked on design concepts to refresh the teaching institution’s main entry hall. This workshop was the return trip of an exchange which began last year with a similar visit from the Canadian Interior Design students in France.
The young designers didn’t waste any time on Monday morning. While their directors, François Levasseur from the ESDL and Mario Landry from the Cégep, got to know each other, they were already measuring up and taking photos of the hall. Time was short as the 7 teams of four designers (two Canadians and two French in each) had to present their propositions to the management on Friday 15th. On Tuesday, they had already revealed to their client the progress made to date.
“The students involved in the project are having an authentic conception experience for a client” pointed out the Cégep’s Design teacher, Audrey Gosselin. “We ask them to complete a realistic project with all its associated constraints, notably the budget. At the end of the day, and as in real life, the client may well retain an entire concept or a mixture of several different propositions.”
François Levasseur, director of the ESDL, thinks the Franco-Canadian team dynamic is a productive one. “The different background influences which each student brings with him means they are out of their comfort zone. The open-mindedness they need to apply favours creativity. Each person has to find and exploit the strengths of the other. At the ESDL, our design teaching is of a more global nature including graphic design and marketing whereas in Quebec the emphasis is more on the technical aspects.”
The ties linking the Cégep Beauce-Appalaches and the ESDL were made at the Bordeaux Education Fair two years ago when Mr. Levasseur met the Director of Studies at the Cégep, Rachel Aubé. They rapidly concluded a five-year student mobility agreement and by the winter of 2015, interior design students from the Cégep participated, with their French colleagues in the design of a VIP area in a tourist club.
The agreement made with the Cégep Beauce-Appalaches by François Levasseur isn’t the only link with Quebec. A dozen fourth-year students will soon be doing work placements in different companies in Quebec.
The ESDL is situated in the south west of France, between Bordeaux and Biarritz and Mr. Levasseur admits that the Quebec winters are a real discovery for the French students who usually only see snow once or twice a year. The French students were also surprised to discover that measurements are often still made in feet and inches even though Canada adopted the metric system some forty years ago. Their mythical Gallic ancestor Obelix would certainly say these Canadians are mad!