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Diplorama+: Interview with Samy Rio, Designer

Graduated from ENSCI - Les Ateliers with a specialization in industrial design, Samy Rio has always been attached as much to the technical side as to the much aesthetics of the objects that he draws. For me the design is beneficial for people if in addition to offering beautiful or useful items it offers objects that are just : just in their design, in their production and thus their life cycle. In this sense to develop more sustainable objects he always tries to work as much the aesthetic of an object as its internal architecture and its technical composition to create the simplest and most comprehensible object for users.
Sammy Rio won the Jury's price at Villa Noaille's Design Parade 10.

Dorothée Charles: In Tube Story, you are questioning the relation between material and object. How do you work with the material?

Samy Rio: The goal of this project is to consider bamboo shoots "tubes" as a possible industrial semi-product. So when I create objects with it, I always try to think about how to use the properties of the material in an efficient way and also where the use of bamboo can be justified, because the point is not to only use it as a substitute and continue producing objects the same way, with bamboo just replacing something else, but to rethink the whole architecture of a product from the body to the inside layout.

D.C.: Working with natural materials involves designing new methods of creation and production. Can you explain how you developed the Tube Story project? 

S.M.: To be considered as an industrial material, the bamboo shoot has to be re-shaped into perfectly round tube. To do this I created my own tools to be able to work bamboo on a classic lathe. When I finally got a perfectly round tube of bamboo I start exploring the material, examining its technical aspects . To make the project as realistic as possible, I also proposed an industrial machine dedicated to the work of bamboo tube. The machine is based on existing industrial technology; it is an assembly of different systems to create an efficient tool.
This machine doesn’t really exist but it was important for me to imagine it because it became a thinking tool for me: when I was experimenting on the material, it made me able  to imagine how the object I was drawing and building could be industrially produced. 

D.C.: What does a “controlled life cycle” mean for an object?

S.R.: For me a controlled life cycle involves first and foremost an understanding of the product. If you understand how it’s made you can more easily understand how to fix it. So, immediately you have more control over the life of your object. In this way, a controlled life cycle means to create products that can easily be taken apart, and so can easily be repaired or recycled by users. Working with bamboo enables me to innovate within this narrative of simplification.

For example, using bamboo in electronics can, I hope, make users change their behavior at the end of the products’ life. Bamboo’s low price keeps objects inexpensive; I chose to draw a hair dryer with the body made out of bamboo because the materiality of the object raises questions about the life cycle of the object: where does material come from and where is it supposed to end? 

D.C.: How has this project been received in Paris and St. Etienne?

S.M.: This project can seem symbolic, or like a manifesto, and that’s a good thing, but I am really happy that in Paris and Saint-Etienne people understand that the purpose of this project is not to greenwash with yet another sustainable material, but rather to rethink industrial production and product conception in a realistic way.

D.C.: How do you think the project will be received in the US?

S.M.: I hope the reaction in NYC will be similarly aware. I am really curious to see how people here are going to react!