Sunday, February 12, 2012
Historic Ecole Boulle Video
Very few foreigners have ever been accepted at ecole Boulle, in Paris. It has always been a quiet and rather selective institution, focusing on training French artisans in the traditional skills of furniture design and fabrication, as well as upholstery, architecture, interior design, sculpture, metal working, and many similar trades.
I was only allowed in because Dr. Pierre Ramond invited me to be there. In fact, the only time visitors are allowed to walk in the door and get past the guard is during the annual open house in late January. This provides the entire school a chance to clean up and show off to the "public."
At that event, busloads of people from all over Europe arrive to examine the student's work. Each workshop sets up an area where the best efforts of the students is on display, and the students stand ready to explain how and why they decided to do that project.
Not much has changed in the century that ecole Boulle has been teaching the historic trades. Certainly the most obvious is that female students and teachers are now part of the school. Another difference is the first floor, where the heavy machinery is located. The old cast iron belt driven power tools have all been removed and are replaced with the most modern CAD and industrial machinery. As you can see from this video, probably many fingers have been saved by removing the old machines.
Fortunately, upstairs nothing has changed. The work benches, tools, patterns and floors show the marks of thousands of talented workers who have passed through these rooms. It is, for me, one of the most authentic historic experiences of my life. When I saw this video, I was transported back to the same place, like a time machine.
Recently a friend sent me a link to this old video of ecole Boulle in the early days. Enjoy!