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museum of decorative Arts and Design

musée des Arts décoratifs

et du Design de Bordeaux

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39 rue Bouffard,

33000 Bordeaux

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Octave de Gaulle, Civilizing Space

from 11.12.2015
to 10.04.2016

From 11 December 2015 to 10 April 2016, the madd-bordeaux, Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, will be presenting Octave de Gaulle, Civilizing Space, the second exhibition in the cycle of invitations to young design graduates, thus asserting the institution’s support for

artistic creation.

This exhibition describes an experimental project, being shown to the public for the first time.

The question about what happens in the sky has imposed itself on humanity since earliest days. It traverses history, making no distinction between civilizations, until taking a much more concrete form in the latter half of the 20tʰ century. The significant efforts made by governments during the Second World War massively mobilized scientists, industrialists and the military to complete projects involving armaments and sophisticated rockets, thus giving rise to major scientific progress headed towards Space. In the late 1950s, the launch of the first American and Soviet satellites marked the beginning of the Space Age.

The intensive media coverage of the successes and failures of the various space missions, challenges of power and might, wielded then a tremendous influence over public opinion. Borders, glances and popular imagination shifted beyond the clouds: the exploration of Space and its use became a wonderful subject of future projection.

Seventy years later, we have almost managed to render the interstellar trip banal, as we have installed research labs in orbit. However, all these systems and devices which take human beings far from their native Earth are still conceived as survival capsules: austere and functional, they simply meet psysiological needs.

Today, the advent of Space tourism, the project of a trip to Mars and the boom in civil orbital aviation all invite us to radically re-think the places and objects which enable us to live in Space. Like the naval, automobile and aeronautical industries in their day, we shall soon be witnessing a change in the space industry. A transition towards a civilian Space Age.

For the past two years, Octave de Gaulle has been questioning these environments bequeathed by a Space Age reserved for the military. Aware that civilians will have other needs and other desires than scientists and armies, he devises objects, shapes and places which propose to accommodate the human being in his full cultural dimension.

In 2013, when he presented his degree project, Distiller One, including the prototypes of a spatial module and a wine service, Constance Rubini, director of the MADD, immediately grasped the quality of this young designer’s research. She suggested then that he exhibits the fruit of his early works and share with the public the many different sources of inspiration which have led him to think about the everyday element in Space.

Because if engineers may have long known how to create survival conditions in a weightless state, design, which is finding its way into space stations, is now introducing sensitive answers going hand-in-hand with life in orbit. So crowdedness, conviviality, privacy, isolation, removal from Earth and on-board comfort are all so many new and decisive challenges. At the dawn of this civilian Space Age, human factors - cultural and psychological alike - are of much greater concern to those involved in space flight than the traditional problems of pressure and oxygen.

How is one to have a glass of wine with friends in a state of weightlessness? What environments encourage social interaction in the absence of weight and orientation? What is the best position for reading, looking at the sky or having discussions in Space?


These questions which underpin Octave de Gaulle’s work invite us to look differently at Space, the fantasies informing it, and the often Spartan reality which hallmarks it. The young designer’s body of research work, drawings and experiments brings out practical solutions and new shapes dictated by restrictions unknown on Earth.

The objects which come into being from his study are the product of a real scientific rigour and particular attention to what are the foundations of human culture. They lie at the crossroads of technology and dreams, which is quite often the case when Space is involved.

In any event, these objects suggest that designers, who have long been sidelined in the space race, in favour of scientists, will be playing a major part in it tomorrow.

Opening: Thursday 10 December 2015 at 7 pm

Practical information: Opening hours, prices, guided tour





Saturday, 10 October at 5.30 pm at Cap Sciences

A lecture titled Vivre dans l’espace, un défi pour l’architecture et le design (Living in Space, a challenge for architecture and design), with the participation of Octave de Gaulle as part of the Village des Sciences and World Space Week.

Information: 06 46 39 56 48 or

Thursday 10 December at 7 pm at the madd

Opening and presentation of the exhibition by Octave de Gaulle.


Wednesday 16 December, from 2.30 to 4 pm at the madd : En route pour le futur

At a time when the first tourist space flights are being announced, with the introduction of private orbiting flights, children aged between 6 and 11 are invited to discover the work of Octave de Gaulle and try out living conditions in Space.

In January

Cap Sciences will propose a programme around life in Space.

Thursday 24 march 2016 

Les Jeudis du musée with the participation of Octave de Gaulle and the astronaut Jean-François Clervoy


A Designer at the School

In partnership with the Canopé network—a network of creation and educational documentation, Octave de Gaulle will be present in several medium-level classes to present his profession of designer and explain the different stages of his work around form and materials.

Curator of the exhibition

Constance Rubini, director of the musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design


Veronika Pertseva, musée des Arts décoratifs et du design 

Press kit (pdf)


Thank you :

Château Haut-Bailly,

Mécène d’honneur

Fraysse & Associés,

Partenaire fidèle

Addinsoft (XLSTAT), mécène de l'exposition

Exhibition partners :

CNES - Observatoire de l’espace

Cap Sciences

ENSCI – Les Ateliers

EBABX – Ecole d’Enseignement Supérieur d’Art de Bordeaux

Maison Mumm

Thank you for the fidelity :

Habitat, au Village du Meuble à Mérignac, partenaire des Jeudis du design

Les Crus Bourgeois du Médoc, mécène des Jeudis du musée

Les Amis de l’hôtel de Lalande

Air France

Château de Launay

Château Nairac

Société de négoce DIVA

Le Chapon Fin

Media parteners :

Station Ausone, partenaires medias