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Marsupio desk

Liliane Bettencourt Prize pour L'intelligence de la main - Talents d’exception - 2017

Liliane Bettencourt Prize pour L'intelligence de la main - Talents d’exception - 2017
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Liliane Bettencourt Prize pour L'intelligence de la main – Talents d’Exception 2017 honors Steven Leprizé, cabinetmaker, for his "Marsupio" (2017) desk.

“A self-explanatory object…” This is how Steven Leprizé likes to define the work that earned him the Talents d’Exception prize this year. The self-explanatory object in question? A desk baptized “Marsupio,” whose form constantly changes in tune with the user’s needs. As both a functional piece of furniture and a sculpture, the work took years of preparation and fine-tuning. “Our first sketches date back to 2010!” he recalled.

The desk called for a brand-new technique: gluing wood onto another material (in this case, rubber) to exploit its properties. The result achieves the ambition: the wood appears completely flexible, almost elastic, pushing back the boundaries. Steven Leprizé has made the most of this by cutting into the desk panels with a craft knife to create pockets for holding everyday objects (folders, files and even a lamp for ambient lighting).

These pockets demonstrate the flexibility of the material and give the furniture an air of a continually reinvented sculpture, taking on the shape of the objects placed on and in it. The desk resembles fabric moving on a body, which returns to its initial shape when the pockets are empty. This work constitutes a real manifesto, both in the inventiveness of the approach and its perfect mastery of traditional savoir-faire.

This innovative technology, named “Woowood,” uses the repoussé technique that has always been used to restore old marquetry. This craftsman has updated the technique, but has above all used it alongside 21st-century objects (a digital cutter and high-tech glue developed with an engineer to provide a buffer between the wood and the rubber).

The result conveys a strong message: it is only possible to write the future with an intimate knowledge of the techniques and expertise of the past.

The material developed is totally innovative – a form of inlay in wood as supple as clothing.

Steven Leprizé, cabinetmaker