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New Generations is a European platform that investigates the changes in the architectural profession ever since the economic crisis of 2008. We analyse the most innovative emerging practices at the European level, providing a new space for the exchange of knowledge and confrontation, theory, and production.
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127af is a studio based in Paris, led by Deborah Feldman and Baptiste Potier. Deborah is an architect with a degree in the dramatic arts, with various experiences in offices like Junya Ishigami (Tokyo), Lacaton Vassal or Barrault Pressacco in Paris, while Baptiste holds a degree in architecture as well as a Master's degree in art history, having worked for nAOM / Chartier Dalix (Paris) as well as for Kengo Kuma and Associates (Tokyo).
We met in India in 2015. I was in Ahmedabad for an internship in Balkrishna Doshi’s office and Baptiste was doing a year abroad at CEPT University. We then moved to Tokyo where we both worked for another three months before going back to Paris for our diplomas. Although we only started working together in 2018, the traces of these experiences overseas, the places we visited, the people we met provided us with a common ground, a shared syntax, and the foundations of our creative universe today.
As we momentarily work with private clients exclusively, the stories worth mentioning are most of the time a reflection of how our craft and the metier in general is perceived by ordinary people. We’ve been often asked by clients to try to reproduce an Ikea-like interior because this standardised imagery represented for them a sort of social attainment. Over time we felt like we needed to develop a sort of pedagogical conduct in order to ease and persuade our clients to surpass this norm and the imagery that came with it.
We are probably not very good at managing our private life and our several professional lives yet. We each have either complementary research projects going on or teaching assignments. Not one day bears resemblance to another, we are very often on site or meeting clients sometimes outside Paris. Currently we are working on several projects in Normandy.
We are currently working from our apartment in Paris - 127af stands for 127 Avenue de Flandre. This configuration is in part due to the fact that the two of us only started working full time for the studio a month before the first lockdown in March 2020. For the time being, working from home is a 24h enterprise: we sketch, chat and sometimes argue over our projects around the clock. We do plan on moving our computers, our library and our models this September. We are eager to begin sharing a small house and a garden in the 19th arrondissement with other architects who also happen to be close friends of ours.
The amount of time spent on doing anything but architecture: paperwork, accounting, promoting, canvassing clients, has been our biggest disillusion. We are both trying to pursue our various obsessions alongside the studio. Baptiste has always had a “hands-on” approach, he’s developing all our carpentry and metal work projects be it scale 1:1 prototypes or small furniture and lighting fixtures. Whereas I have started a thesis in architecture and anthropology on contemporary domesticity and its architecture. Making everything fit in a seven-day week is quite a delicate balance to keep. We are longing for routine.
We take every project as an opportunity to question and divert the standard use of materials, building techniques and spaces. We start all projects seeking to loosen the boundaries formally and conceptually. Afterwards, while drawing, we go as far as possible into detail in order to be able to fully calibrate and control the outcome. Perfecting a certain design process can sometimes mean being stuck working on the same scale and type of projects over and over again. We are keen on working for varied end users, on diverse briefs with inspiring craftsmen that can widen our horizons in terms of aesthetics, use of space and construction methods.
Images courtesy of 127af