‘rattan is definitely alive’ – aurelie hoegy on using movement as an artistic medium

fascinated by movement and durable materials

driven by an inner fascination with the essence of movement as well as a curiosity for malleable yet solid natural materials, aurelie hoegy creates a wide range of powerful works breaking down the barriers between normality and abnormality. the French artist and designer uses movement as a medium and embodies it through her extensive work, which includes limited edition objects, facilitiesfurniture and lighting rooms. using sustainable organic materials, like rattan fibers, the designer shapes the material into what looks like a wild choreography in space or a graceful aerial ocean wave. “I let myself be guided by the movement of the fiber itself, suddenly shaping the material into an architecture of the body in motion.” she mentions.

designboom spoke with aurelie hoegy to learn more about her creative approach, her deep interest in rattan as well as her internationally acclaimed works. read the full interview below.

the wild fiber duchess

all images courtesy of aurélie hoegy

aurelie hoegy lives and works between paris and puerto escondido in mexico. she first received international recognition for her graduation work dubbed “the macguffin lamp”. this debut was followed by his two acclaimed works. the first is the ‘dancers’ collection, for which she received the rado jury prize during paris design week 2015 and the first jury prize at the pure talent competition at imm cologne in 2016. also, in september 2021, The CNAP, one of the largest cultural institutions in France, has acquired three pieces from the series.

the second piece widely acclaimed by hoegy is the ‘duchesse aux fibers sauvage’, which was directly acquired by the center pompidou in paris for its permanent collection. the duchess will also be part of their next mimesis show, a living design at the center pompidou metz in june 2022. you can see dancers, the wild fiber duchess and other works by aurelie hoegy here.

'rattan is definitely alive' - aurelie hoegy on using movement as an artistic medium
the wild fiber duchess

interview with aurelie hoegy

designboom (DB): can you tell us a bit about your background? What are your main sources of influence and inspiration?

aurelie hoegy (AH): everyday reality is one of the best inspirations ever! I have always been inspired by forms of expression that allow me to deepen my understanding around the body, objects, space, materials and intangible movements. in my first project i created the macguffin lamp, which uses a 1000 meter cable as a trigger object inviting the user to experience spontaneous everyday moments of craziness and personal freedom of expression.

then another important moment in my career was a collaboration with dancer and choreographer eric arnal burtschy, which happened while i was developing my collection of dancers chairs. working with him with my own body, I developed a more sensitive approach that allowed me to use dance choreography methods in my design practice. it gave me a better understanding of the relationship between body and object and how they could interact with each other in a more vivid way. the result was the performance commissioned for the do trouble festival at the palais de tokyo and later by silencio in paris.

'rattan is definitely alive' - aurelie hoegy on using movement as an artistic medium
the dancers collection

comics: you have worked with a wide range of mediums, including textiles, rattan, steel and cotton. What are some of the characteristics that draw you to an artistic medium?

Oh: I guess I’m always drawn to materials that are both flexible and yet can become stiff and sturdy. usually they are very long, like tubes, cables, ropes, lianas… the flexibility, tactility and wildness of the materials facilitate a free gestural experience, creating an organic relationship between person and object. I work on hybridity, merging objects and performances.

I’m currently very interested in rattan fibers, which is probably one of the most amazing materials I’ve worked with so far. it’s not only one of the longest fibers in the world, but it also has incredible potential. they are exceptionally flexible, soft and extremely rigid when attached to each other. rattan is definitely alive! due to the COVID situation last year, I spent a lot of time alone in my workshop. it gave me the opportunity to be more intimate with him. a real dialogue has been established between the fiber and myself. I had to challenge how to tame it and release it at the same time. I also like to work with rattan as I would with a flexible textile that allows movement without constraining it. rattan is not easy to work with. I feel like I’ve just started this journey and can’t wait to see where it takes me.

'rattan is definitely alive' - aurelie hoegy on using movement as an artistic medium
wild fiber coffee table

DB: A lot of your work deals with the concept of free form and movement — can you explain what these ideas mean to you?

Oh: I believe the movement reflects a certain idea of ​​freedom, wild expressionism, dynamism. an invitation to think and rethink archetypes. I am fascinated by the essence of movement and its intangibility. I use movement as a medium and embody it through my furniture collections. when working with movement as a medium no set rules apply, for each work we define new ones. this allows me to work instinctively in each case. in the first collection I invited the users themselves to perform (macguffin), then I let myself be inspired by the invisible trace left by the movement of the dancers in space (dancers), and now I let myself be guided by the movement of the fiber itself (wild fibres), suddenly shaping the material into an architecture of the moving body.

in 2016, in collaboration with louise schouwenberg, i wrote a manifesto on design and choreography entitled ‘unobject’ for the presentation of the performance of offbeat dancers at the silencio. in this manifesto, I explain my vision of the designer’s role in understanding human desires: “pure movement is rarely harnessed by designers, either as a way to inform the design process, or as a way to define the expression of the result, which is odd given the true nature of design: close interaction with people, which by definition involves activity.’

'rattan is definitely alive' - aurelie hoegy on using movement as an artistic medium
the fifth piece of the dancers collection

DB: on the occasion of the acquisition by the center pompidou of the ‘duchess with wild fibers’, can you tell us a bit about the project? how’s it going with the rattan?

Oh: I rediscovered this magnificent material during a trip to Indonesia. while first tracing the inspiration of the human body in dancers in 2016, with the wild fiber collection, i have now explored the innate liveliness of the material itself. Used in craftsmanship since the dawn of time, rattan has been associated with many styles, but traditional and mass standards have played a role in limiting its natural form and full potential. my first concern then consisted in drawing from the essence of the material, with the idea of ​​creating a symbiosis between the movement of the body and the dynamics of the fibre. the idea is that these functional objects could be enjoyed both as a moving body and as living material, blending the boundaries of inertia with life.

doing a residency in bali allowed me to explore the roots and origin of craftsmanship, but also to assimilate techniques in real time, to deepen my sensory knowledge and to dive into fiber experimentation . there I worked closely with skilled Balinese craftsmen in a traditional workshop, making a life-size prototype. this first tentative piece started with the classic chair frame. starting from the legs, the fiber would then mold to the skeletal structure, but as one progresses upwards the movement unfolds and the stems begin to unclamp, branching out more naturally. back in my parisian studio, i perfected the technique and after many experiments, the ‘wild fibers’ collection was born.

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