Interview - Raphaëlle Le Baud - The Craft Project

Raphaëlle Le Baud is the co-founder of the Métiers Rares studio and the founder of a podcast dedicated to the Craft Industry: The Craft Project. This podcast is a reference in the French Cultural Ecosystem with 28 interviews and 50 000 listeners. It aims at telling the stories of artisans through powerful conversation about their work, career and inspiration.

Among the podcasts recorded by Raphaëlle, four are devoted to our partners: Lison de Caunes from Lison de Caunes Creations, Charles Jouffre from the Ateliers Jouffre, Pierre-Yves Guenec and Pascal Remy from the Ateliers Saint Jacques.

Par Excellence: Which paths, experiences and encounters led you to the founding of The Craft Project?

Raphaëlle: I have been an entrepreneur in Craftmanship for ten years. It all started in 2010, when I took over the Maison Duvelleroy, specialized in the making of fans. And for ten years, I was inspired by craftsmen, who allowed me to take a richer look on life but also on my working sector. This is why I decided to do a podcast.

In addition, I studied at Sciences Po Paris and NYU in New York. I have lived with the radio since I was born and so for me, a podcast is the best way to make the specific intelligence of each craftsman heard.

Par Excellence: Which method do you use during your interviews to have access to the most intimate of each craftsman? Is there a technique?

My mother is a psychoanalyst, so I think it helps. I also have a facility to listen to people. And when it comes to craftsmen, I think it’s my deep admiration for what they do and build that creates a caring environment that makes them speak freely.

Par Excellence: Who is the typical listener of The Craft Project? And what reaction do you want to generate when someone listens to your podcasts?

The Craft Project is very known in the Craft sector. Among the students – especially at the Boulle Art School in Paris – but also the artisans. Many of them told me they listen to the podcasts while they are working. Customers and decorators can also discover gem through this way. And finally, I am always very touched when people who do not know anything about Craft tell me that they listened to the podcast and were inspired by the artisans’ Art and History.

Par Excellence: The Craft Project is also in your words “A Think Thank of Craftsmen who come together to think and act for the future of Crafts”. How can we think this future and what place does the digital occupy in it?

Over the interviews – almost thirty episodes! – we realized that the concerns of craftsmen were deep and worrying, particularly in regard to the formation of their successors. Parents, students and the Ministry of National Education should be aware of the professional opportunities this sector offers. This is why we meet regularly to find new ideas and to act in this direction.
As far as digital is concerned, it enables craftsmen to make themselves known on the market independently of intermediaries. So, it is already a valuable springboard for them. Within the workshops, these are craftsmen who become influencers. Instagram gives artisans the opportunity to get an unprecedented economic influence. That’s why digital is central in the future of fine Crafts, and The Craft Project is the very expression of it. The artisans of the Think Tank have a big digital community, so do I: we are deeply involved in digital.

Par Excellence: You’re in a way an ambassador of French Know-How: Co-founder of Duvelleroy and the Mayaro Gallery in Paris, co-founder of the Métiers Rares Studio. Do you plan to be the ambassador of this French Savoir-Faire on the international stage?

It’s my dream, because the Crafts need to shine. I am very attached to French workshops; I would like to talk about it internationally. I had the chance to participate in Homo Faber in Venice, where it was a real pleasure to talk about crafts, talk about our Craftsmen and their skills and expertise. And this is why one of my dream is also to translate the Craft Project in English. And I thank Par Excellence for all its efforts to accompany me in the realization of this will!


Meljac switches combine design and French Savoir-Faire

July 3, 2019 / Claire Bossu-Rousseau from Signatures Singulières Magazine

Meljac manufactures high-end switches and outlets in brass, glass and porcelain. But also reading lights, cladding card readers, air conditioning, door plates or lifts and doorbells. Meljac’s creations seduce many architects, decorators but also individuals.

Refined switches

“A switch must not only be functional. It must be attractive or even sensual. Your desires inspire me.” This is what Andre Bousquet, Meljac’s founder, declared in 1995. Originally from a small town in Aveyron, André Bousquet created his electrical installations company in Paris. He then realized that a final touch lacked to electrical equipment on construction sites. So he decided to launch his switch manufacturing company, which he called Meljac, the name of his native village. Forerunner, André Bousquet quickly meets success with his designs.

Interview with Jean-Michel Lagarde – CEO of Meljac

The creations of Meljac seem to have for limit, it seems, only the imagination of its customers. What is the most amazing order made to Meljac ?

Jean-Michel Lagarde: Indeed, we are a tool to translate the creativity of architects, thanks to our know-how and our ability to meet the demanding needs of tailor-made. It is our taste for innovation that excites us to take up the challenge! For example, one of the most extravagant achievements comes from a request from a Middle Eastern prince who wanted a butterfly-shaped switch for his daughter who is passionate about these insects! We have developed a real gem: a bronze butterfly, set with precious stone (labradorite) with a push button! This is how our PRESTIGE collection was born.

Meljac’s references are numerous: the Palace of Versailles, the Louvre Museum, the Four Seasons Hotel George V, the Danieli Hotel in Venice… Do you have another prestigious name for 2020?

Jean-Michel Lagarde: Many beautiful projects are underway. The best known are palaces and 5* hotels: The Cheval Blanc Paris, The Mandarin Oriental or the Luxury Hotel Aman New York. For these projects, we produce sophisticated products developed and tested by our design office; for example a brass console engraved with the logo of the establishment, which centralizes all the controls of the room. Every project is different and that’s what makes our job exciting.

Meljac opens its first subsidiary in 2018 and chooses the United States. Why ?

Jean-Michel Lagarde: After several years of presence through a distributor, it became necessary to establish a direct relationship with customers in this specific market. Our presence makes it possible to better understand projects, optimize customer service and responsiveness, and thus exploit the full potential of this geographic sector.

Meljac is also represented at Par Excellence, in New York, a showroom which represent exceptional French know-how. What is the impact for Meljac ?

Jean-Michel Lagarde: We joined the group recently and have already participated in several events and initiated many contacts (architects, decorators, etc.). Our approach is a long-term approach. Par Excellence is a beautiful showcase that allows us to benefit from a presence in New York, in addition to the headquarters of our subsidiary based in Los Angeles. It is a strong support for our local distribution. Par Excellence showroom brings together prestigious names in the field of French know-how and we are proud to be part of it!

Innovative and attractive products

Inspired by the art of living of the 30’s, symbolized by the lever “water drop”, the switches are very elegant. And, above all, the models – brass, porcelain, glass and plexiglass – are customizable! First of all, customers have the choice of mechanisms: levers, push buttons, mini buttons etc. Then they can also engrave words, symbols, pictograms, lights, etc. Finally, the engraving allows to print in color a motive, a logo, or even a photo!

Traditional French know-how with finesse

Meljac creations are handmade in France, and this at every step of the process. In 2015, the company was the first in its sector of activity to obtain the EPV (Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant) label. In 2018, Meljac opens a subsidiary in the United States. Signatures Singulières greets this bright journey.