Domaine de Boisbuchet is a unique, off-the-wall design destination situated on the French countryside. For more than 20 years, Boisbuchet organizes a series of interdisciplinary summer workshops where students and professionals from all over the world come together for a week of experimental work with renowned designers, architects and artists. WantedDesign for the second year partnered with the organization and with the French Airline company XL Airways to offer the opportunity for US design students to take part in a Boisbuchet’s Summer Workshop. We had a chance this year to have two talented young designers able to participate to a workshop of their choice.

Marlee Vlassis is going into her fourth year in the Interior Design program at RIT. She started her education at RIT in 2011 studying Chemical Engineering, but a few years and a coupleof internships later, Marlee changed her major to pursue her passion for Interior Design. She loves to imagine people in places and how different personalities will respond to a crafted space, and that’s what mainly motivates her designs. The collaborative aspect and connections to new creative people coming from all over the world sharing her passion was a key part of her Boisbuchet experience. Discover what motivates this young and talented Interior Designer.

WantedDesign: Can you give us a quick background about yourself and your path until now?
Marlee: I always did well in math and science growing up, so I started my college career in chemical engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology, and I majored in that for about three years, but as I did my internships, I knew it wasn’t the right fit for me. With only a year left until graduation, I changed my major to interior design, and I am now entering my senior year. I’ve been interning with Staach, a local design firm in Rochester, NY since the beginning of the summer, and that experience has confirmed that following my passion was definitely the right choice.

Why did you apply to the Boisbuchet + WantedDesign contest and what was your expectation in going there?
I got the opportunity to work with three other interior design students last spring to curate the Wanted Interiors space for WantedDesign Manhattan, and that’s how I initially heard about the contest. While attending the event, I realized how broad the field of design is and how small and compartmentalized we tend to make it in school, so I wanted to attend Boisbuchet to get exposure to new thought processes and new cultures. Even though I changed my major away from the chemistry field, I still really enjoy the idea of reactions and changes, and that inspires how I approach designing. I like thinking about how people interact with a space and how design affects how they think, move and act, and being able to be empathetic to those type of reactions means knowing people and what they care about. I’ve never traveled beyond North America, so my contact with other cultures was super limited, and I thought that that would be a hindrance when trying to create spaces that can be enjoyed universally. I went to Boisbuchet with no expectations to be honest. I didn’t want to overplan or overthink but just be present and appreciative.

Can you describe in few lines the workshop you were part of? The set up, the process, and the project you achieved?
I attended Sabine Marcelis’s Exploring Another Light workshop with about 20 other students. We all met with Sabine, and she introduced us to the acrylic created by PyraSied that we would be working with and some concepts about how to create interesting moments with light. From there, we each spent a day coming up with our own creations that all played with light and material in different ways, and then we compared some of our findings, and we then split up into teams to hone in on some of the stronger ideas we had identified as a group. My group got a really interesting acrylic that was transparent yet reflective and it was strong but flexible, so we wanted to create an installation that would showcase all of the material’s qualities and we spent a couple days walking around the domain finding inspiration by prior works and the surrounding nature.

What inspired you the most there?
I think the people. I’m pretty introverted and shy, so for me to have easy connections with people is really refreshing. School gets so busy and competitive and is always dictated by grades and timelines, so it was so nice to be in a space where everyone just wanted to learn from each other. While you’re at Boisbuchet the staff, tutors, and students all sit down together for breakfast, lunch, coffee break, and dinner, and it was great to hear people talk about their lives or what they were working on for their projects, and there’s just a special bond that happens when you’re eating together.

What is your dream project or career?
As of right now, I really love exhibition design and art installations. I think it would be awesome to work with fashion houses to design sets and runways. Everyone always talks about how art and design are different things, but I seem to fall in the middle of those two disciplines, so I would ideally like to work on anything that would let me combine the two.

Instagram: @marleervlassis



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