Les Carnets de Mulhouse

Mission: Create an object-souvenir for Mulhouse
Client: Kingston University
Location: Mulhouse, France
Year: 2015
Role: Project Leader

The project:

In June 2015, Kingston University, alongside other four European Universities, were invited to participate in Transbazar, a design event organized in the old “industrial capital of Alsace”, Mulhouse. The collaborative partners were invited to take possession of a number of empty shop units and set up live pop-up productions of object-souvenirs, able to reflect Mulhouse’s post-industrial identity, using low cost, locally available materials and involving the local community in the process. “Les Carnets de Mulhouse”, was Kingston University’s contribution.


The notebooks:

“Les Carnets de Mulhouse” is a series of pocket-size notebooks made out of quality-control rejected yarn from Mulhouse’s iconic textile manufacturer, Dollfus-Mieg et Compagnie (DMC). This raw material was hand processed and transformed into colourful sheets of paper that were then stitched together using elegant binding. The simplicity of the whole fabrication process allowed visitors to take active part in the fabrication of the carnets as intended in the spirit of the festival. Their handcrafted beauty and meaningful connection to the industrial history of the city gave the carnets a distinctive “souvenir” quality and a real commercial appeal.


My role:

As the project leader employed by the Design Department of the University, I was responsible for helping a group of MA students come up with an engaging idea that responded to the brief. I was tasked with planning, executing and delivering the project to Mulhouse, where it was then exhibited for the duration of 20 days. Additionally, I oversaw the entire production process, facilitated and coordinated the participation of the local community, presented the project to the press and designed the logo and brand identity of the product.


Why cotton?

  • It is a versatile material with a low cost and full of creative potential
  • The use of cotton reinforces a link between the community and the old textile identity of Mulhouse

Why papermaking?

  • Making paper is a process that is simple enough to be performed by different kinds of people, therefore encouraging social aggregation
  • It establishes a symbiosis between the historic industry and the new modes of artisanal production
  • Handmade objects suggest a different relationship between the producer and consumers
  • In paper making, you value the fabrication process as much as the product itself, enabling people to process, create and communicate in a stimulating way, linking the spheres of work and leisure

Why carnets?

  • The carnet is a beautiful object, a recipient and a generator of memories, thoughts, ideas
  • It invites the citizens of Mulhouse to contribute their thoughts and speculations towards a brighter post-industrial future for the European worker and a new future for Mulhouse
  • We believe that you can tackle social issues through creative collaboration
  • The carnet is a beautiful souvenir of Mulhouse in which its pages have been carefully studied to evoke its textile origins / industrial past (in color and textures)

Making of