Three years since we were first introduced to the exquisite work of Maison Intègre, a metalsmithing workshop and foundry based in Burkina Faso, its mission to preserve and honour the legacy of West African craftspeople and artisans feels more relevant than ever. At New York Design Week 2022, the New York-based design gallery Les Ateliers Courbet presents Maison Intègre’s first-ever limited-edition collection (on view until 26 July 2022), which brings together international designers and artists in residence with Maison Integre’s community of artisans.
The inaugural collection kicks off with a series of bronze pieces, created in collaboration with the French designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance, and reveals a well-rounded offering that includes tables, lighting, wall sconces and a chair.
Maison Intègre: a journey through West African culture
Maison Intègre was founded in 2017 by Ambre Jarno, a former television executive who lived in Burkina Faso from 2012 to 2014. The workshop and foundry is based in Ouagadougou and its artisans continue to work using the lost wax bronze casting technique, which has largely remained unchanged since its inception millennia ago. The studio completed a comprehensive workshop space this year, enabling it to support the work of 15 artisans and provide them with livelihoods, while also preserving the region’s craft traditions.
While this is not the first time Maison Intègre has brought an international designer in to work with the team in Burkina Faso – we instigated a collaboration between Maison Intègre and the American designer Brendan Ravenhill in 2019 for Wallpaper* Handmade – this partnership with Duchaufour-Lawrance pushes the envelope further. The designer was invited to spend an extensive amount of time immersed in Ouagadougou, in order to create contemporary designs that honour Burkinabe culture and traditions.
‘This project was a journey through West African culture. I wanted to pay homage to the beauty of what I found along my path,’ says Duchaufour-Lawrance, who made many trips to Burkina Faso over the course of two years. ‘One image that I have kept in mind is from when I travelled in Mali – discovering some treasures at the Bandiagara cliffs, where I saw the Dogon ladders that inspired the “Y” lamp. Ambre showed me pictures of houses made of rammed earth, with their oblong geometry and their slightly recessed roofs. Those inspired the “Kassena” tables.’
Duchaufour-Lawrance’s seven-strong collection marks the first time Maison Intègre has brought a full collection to life. There is a clear line drawn between each of the designs and a West African motif; the wall sconces feature mask-like shapes, and there’s a pared-down spin on the palabre chair – a West African mainstay mostly seen in courtyards and under trees. Duchaufour-Lawrance, Jarno and the Burkinabe bronzesmiths worked collaboratively to sculpt the beeswax moulds used to cast the final bronze pieces – everything is formed and done by hand, and this bestows the pieces with a sensual quality.
Duchaufour-Lawrance explains the magic of the material perfectly. ‘In the hands of the artisans I met in Ouagadougou, the bronze is getting another life. The material seems like it’s vibrating, playing with the light with its irregularities from all the process it has been through.
‘All of these elements give it a singularity and its own patina, [which is specific to] the objects that Maison Intègre produces there.’
Maison Intègre is on view at Les Ateliers Courbet until 26 July 2022
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Pei-Ru Keh is the US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru has held various titles at Wallpaper* since she joined in 2007. She currently reports on design, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru has taken a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars and actively seeks out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.
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