In 2016, the Emmaus Var community created a new workshop, La Fabrique, with the aim of showing off companions’ skills and creativity, and offering them training through upcycling donated furniture and objects.
How did this project come about and why?
The situation in the group:
- Companions with skills, knowledge and creativity;
- The success of traditional furniture created by Bob from recovered materials over 20 years of sales;
- Declining quality of furniture collected, too much furniture being scrapped;
- Public interest in hand-made objects from recovered materials and unique pieces.
We want to:
- offer training for companions;
- have a ‘window’ into our community and change certain attitudes towards Emmaus;
- provide a gateway to our association;
- be more visible on a local level.
We work with two types of furniture:
- Damaged furniture to be restored or restyled;
- Unique pieces made from recovered wood and steel.
Using three different skills:
These creations are displayed and sold within a dedicated area.
We display them with lots of other objects (e.g. decorative, clothing, electrical goods) that help to showcase the companions’ creations.
This is a group project – everyone contributes by coming up with ideas and helping to sort objects and clothing, as well as materials that could be used to decorate the room or create furniture.
This activity is carried out by the community on its own, although we have collaborated with local artists.
- Training: one of the goals from the start was to train companions. We would like to provide training to companions in other communities.
- Development of other creative workshops.
- Hosting exhibitions by local artists in the creative space.
“I’ve always liked working with wood. La Fabrique is really inspiring – it’s a challenge to have to offer new things to customers. And it’s great to get so many compliments on our work. But, as I always say, it’s not just my work – it’s the whole community’s.” Ababacar
At first, only two companions, Ababacar and Bob, worked producing furniture at La Fabrique. Other companions were trained later on, and today we have five companions that can work there.
La Fabrique attracts new customers who come from all over France. While they are attracted by our companions’ creations, they quickly move onto looking at other stands which is why we’ve kept it all in one place. Visitors are sometimes surprised by the quality and creativity of the furniture on offer. It seems that customers treat companions and their work with more respect since the opening of La Fabrique.
La Fabrique has also provided an opportunity for greater interaction with local actors such as artists and associations.
- Articles in newspapers (le Seynois, Var matin, Elle decoration, etc.);
- TV programme “La maison France 5”;
- Participation in a contemporary art exhibition;
- Exhibition in a fine-dining restaurant;
- Participation in the alternative village “Alternatiba”;
- Participation in the Colère Rouge event (fighting the pollution of our oceans).
We have all we need within our communities: the human capital for finding new resources, creating, innovating and sustaining without tarnishing our principles or our originality.
Why should we choose a means of operating that goes against all we stand for? That doesn’t value our companions or what is special about our communities?
▶▶ For more information • Find La Fabrique on the Emmaus Var website /// https://www.emmaus-var.com/la-fabrique/ • Follow the creations of the Emmaus Var companions on the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/La-Fabrique-1539962056334436/ and on Instagram under “la Fabrique”.
The action is already sustainable within our community. Offering training to other communities would be a way for it to develop.