The Village des Métiers d'Art de Desvres: a story of heritage.
Unique in France, the opening of this venue finds its meaning in the very history of the ceramics sector in Desvres and is a demonstration of the political will to encourage and preserve the craft professions in this region.
250 years of history and economic significance link Desvres to the production of faience. The ‘City of Potters’ is known throughout France for its tradition of pieces decorated by hand in famous styles.
But for several decades the sector has been in crisis. The great names that made the town’s reputation (Géo Martel, Masse, Fourmaintraux among others) have closed their doors, leaving behind just the memory of an industry that used to employ hundreds of workers
Desvres nevertheless remains the last ceramic production centre in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais with two SMEs and 9 artisans representing one hundred or so jobs: modellers, decorators, potters, ceramists.
The region has long worked to retain skills and revive the crafts sector. Down the years, the Community of Municipalities of Desvres Samer has implemented ground-breaking action programmes bearing on:
- Participation at Lille Capitale Culturelle 2004. Four faience producing enterprises collaborate with the Dutch firm Droog Design to create design pieces.
- In partnership with the DRAC (Regional Directorate for Cultural Action), Desvres enterprises work on the production of a complete loft apartment in ceramic designed by the designer Chafik Gasmi. This loft apartment was presented at the “Maison et Objets” design show in September 2006.
- An artists' residence is set up, with the support of the DRAC and initiated by the Town of Desvres. It represents a breeding ground for ideas and experiences for artists, designers and ceramists.
- Creation of the ‘Pays de la Faïence de Desvres’ visual identity, common to enterprises and the territory,
- Creation of a website and signage erected in the twenty-three municipalities
Creation of an on-the-job training contract leading to the professional qualification of ‘Céramiste polyvalent’ (multi-skilled ceramist), unique in France, which is recognised by the Organisme Paritaire Collecteurs Agrées (representative body that collects training funds) and the Institute of French Ceramics.
In 2005, a feasibility study for the creation of a business incubator dedicated to the Craft Professions was undertaken by the firm Dexteris (http://www.dexteris-consultant.com/). This study highlighted the lack of a structure providing facilities to attract new craft enterprises based on diverse skills, innovation and cooperation.
A structure providing facilities for craft enterprises was then conceived of, centring on:
- the production of high-quality craft objects or services
- access to activities similar or complementary to ceramics,
- proximity and cooperation between professionals,
- a new business incubator for creation and innovation,
- a capacity to generate public flows,
- support guided by concerns for economic development.
Construction work started in 2008. The VMAD was completed in 2010.