François Azambourg: "Légèretés manifestes" at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs

My approach is often linked to manufacturing processes and materials, which I re-evaluate, because I am eternally fascinated by the way in which objects are made.

The Légèretés manifestes exhibition (9 March to 2 July 2023) at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris is currently showcasing the inventive, avant-garde work of designer and former Villa Kujoyama resident François Azambourg. The Institut français is a partner in the section of the exhibition dedicated to this French residency in Japan. Villa Kujoyama is an establishment of the cultural cooperation network of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, under the Institut français of Japan and which benefits from the patronage of the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation, and the support from the Institut français. 

Updated on 07/06/2023

5 min

Francois Azambourg was born in Angoulême in 1963, and trained at the École Régionale des Beaux-arts in Caen before going on to the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et des Métiers d'Art - ENSAAMA. In 1985, he developed one of his first creations, a lightweight saxophone, which incorporates several elements that were to become central to his practice: lightness, inventiveness and music. Through his Paris-based design studio, he has worked with the Centre International d'Art Verrier, Hermès, Ligne Roset, Manufacture de Sèvres, Louis Vuitton, Cappellini and many others. He was recognised as a pioneer very early on, with economy and ecology forming an integral part of his practice. Winner of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs competition in 1985, he went on to receive a string of awards: Fondation de France (1988), Fondation de la Vocation (1993), Villa Medici Hors les Murs (2003), Grand Prix du Design de la Ville de Paris (2004), etc. His work can be found in the public collections of prestigious institutions such as the Centre Pompidou, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the CNAP. In 2015, he was resident at Villa Kujoyama in Japan. 

Inventive and patient, François Azambourg sometimes spends several years on a project, often in order to thwart the expectations of the design industry and bypass its normal procedures. For him, the process is as important as the result. This is documented in the current retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which features numerous sketches and other intermediate stages of work. Far from ending up as rejects, what the designer calls "mistakes" are often used as a basis for designing objects such as the inflatable textile Pack chair (1998). Drawing on techniques from fields such as aviation and the automotive industry, he designs furniture and lamps that are inexpensive to produce and environmentally friendly. 

Légèretés manifestes, a major retrospective devoted to François Azambourg is currently on show at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Nearly two hundred pieces from public and private collections are on display, inviting visitors to rediscover the designer's work through the prism of economy of means. From the reuse of wood shavings (a technique he discovered in Japan during his residency at Villa Kujoyama) to propellers and inflatable furniture, the six-part exhibition is entirely devoted to experimental processes that result in objects of great simplicity. Along with wood and fabric, metal is one of his favourite materials. Azambourg himself teaches at ENSCI - Les Ateliers, and designed the iconic Chapelière lamp in homage to Serge Mouille, his former teacher at ENSAAMA. 

  • 1963


    Born in Angoulême.

  • 2003


    Villa Medicis Hors les Murs residency.

  • 2015


    Residency at the Villa Kujoyama.

  • 2023


    Légèretés Manifestes, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

L'institut français, LAB