French Architect Clement Lesnoff -Rocard chooses freedom over safety as his design ethos, a profile of his life and work.
With a French degree in Architecture, Clement Lesnoff-Rocard created his workshop Studio in 2015 in his hometown, Paris, although a substantial amount of his design work occurs on-site. His work is part of a romantic tradition, opposing rationalism. In each of his projects, he aims to liberate the imagination. In his own words, “A spoon or a tower I’m not sure I consider myself a studio, but it all started right after graduation with small projects for friends and family. I felt the urge to confront what I had learnt in theory with the practical ground and on my own terms.
At the time, I used to say that I would prefer to design a spoon for myself than a tower for someone else. Now, eight years into my practice, I feel that I am still learning how to walk in different ways: I take pleasure in considering every new project as a totally new experience. I hope to be able to keep this joyful and playful approach as long as possible. So far I have neither designed a spoon nor a tower; they might be two good playgrounds for me to explore.
Achieving true harmony one day, one of my clients suddenly decided that he didn’t want to pay to move an existing metal pillar by ten centimetres, as we had painstakingly planned in the project. and a few centimetres won’t change a thing in the space, he said. I asked him to visualise the face of a friend and then move one eye downwards by a centimetre. Of course, we ended up moving the column, and the client was more than happy with the decision and its new implantation. Harmony is, in my opinion, the closest relative of beauty, and it is not an art of approximation.
Remaining human everything is about how free you want to be in your everyday life. I can’t stand being locked up in the office if it’s a beautiful day outside and I feel the need to go out for a walk. This simple state of mind has a strong impact on the way I’ve built my practice, and it’s also the reason why my studio is in fact not a studio but more of a one-man- orchestra: someone free of movement carrying all his skills around with him. Safety versus freedom? I’ll always pick freedom. Luckily I love my work so much that I rarely feel like I’m working when I’m at it.
And as a brand new father, realizing all the time and real work involved in that wonderful process, I actually feel like I’m on holiday when I get to work. To bring humanity into your projects, you have to stay human, nothing close to a hero. Working on-site on my projects, I usually spend around 80 % of the time on the construction sites, drawing on walls, adapting and discussing technical solutions that won’t ruin the poetic drive of the initial ideas with the craftsmen.
So I’d say that my real studio spaces are the actual construction sites. The big picture someone once told me this little story and it really marked me: Three men are busy working on a construction site. When someone comes up and asks them what they are doing, the first worker answers: I’m stacking stones, the second one replies I’m building a wall and the third one says, we e are building a cathedral and whatever your future is, always aim for the cathedral.