Unidentified Therapeutical Object

Why did you become a designer? What would you have done, had you not chosen this path?

M. L.  : I like that this profession has both generalist and specialist sides to it. We work in various sectors and at the same time we have to give detailed expertise. I like this constant back and forth. I am concerned with the human being, whether he is called a patient or a consumer, to understand who he really is. Maybe, had I not been a designer, I would have been a doctor, although I am not sure what I would have specialized in.

How would you define your approach?

M. L.  : I don’t try to draw objects or facilities according to my vision. I try to imagine them from the user’s brain. It is not about leaving my mark or my style, it is about adapting to very diffe - rent contexts. Your diploma project, Therapeutical Objects, dealt with the ergonomics of medication.

Why did you choose this subject?

M. L. : I was looking for a territory not yet explored by design, which tends to focus on furniture. Strangely, the medical and pharmaceutical sectors have hardly changed, or else in the wrong direction. The more complex, efficient and precise they have become, the more they have pulled away from the human being. So I looked into a way to rethink therapeutical objects, medication for instance. My approach was not to focus on the molecule, but on the entirety of the product we have to ingest, drink or inject ourselves with. I started with an observation that is well-known in the pharmaceutical world: today, one drug out of two is not taken correctly. The reason lies not with the object itself, but with compliance, the capacity of the indivi dual to take responsibility and invest himself in the treatment. I wondered whether design could repair this rela - tionship between the human, the body, the illness and the cure. Since then, health and well-being have remained at the center of your concerns.

What is the drivingforce behind these creations?

M. L. : The starting and end point is the human being. No matter what marketing services say, it is not a stable and coherent entity that could be categorized. It is a complex ensemble that is sensitive to its environment and that breathes, interacts and thinks. This diversity feeds my inspiration. Projects like Tomorrow Is Another Day, The Island or Local River imitate life and play a reactive game. These objects are not just made to be contemplated, they evolve when faced with exter nal constraints or with what I eat, for instance.

You have now been cooperating for several years with the biomedical engineering researcher David Edwards.

M. L.  : We are both convinced that scientists and creators share a reflective mode that is guided by intuition, demonstration and imagination. We met at the launch of the Laboratory 1 in Paris, in 2007. We wanted to work together on projects 2 by bringing in our respective skills. This collaboration allowed me to draw Café ArtScience. It opened in Boston in 2014 and is simutaneously an art and science gallery, an auditorium, a concept store and a restaurant. We are thinking about designing more.

Are science and design two inseparable allies for tomorrow’s health?

M. L. : They are not yet. Design doesn’t require science to make a coffee table or a bedside lamp. However, if I plan on drawing objects that have a real impact on the rest of the world, I will need to summon scientific knowledge. It goes at such a speed today – in particular neuroscience – that I would be remiss not to use it. For science, design has become essential in all aspects of health, at the level of medication, a hospital room, or home care. In this case, its role is to improve understanding. The most advanced scientists see science as being more than just scientific. If it doesn’t inspire each of us, it hasn’t reached its goal.

How does this research around well-being influence your role as the lead designer for Huawei in Paris?

M. L.  : In this case, it is not about science but technology. These two worlds intersect, because health is more and more present in technology, whether it is connected on my wrist or through my phone. We are now close to elements that capture our physical effort or cardiac rhythm. We carry with us small digital doctors. My position of creative director allows me to give the impulsions, the innovations needed for a group the size of Huawei.

By Hélène Martinez