Etienne Bailleul is a sculptor and designer living and working in France. As a self-taught woodworker, his approach is exploratory and evolves with his knowledge of the material. Fascinated by the ephemeral and mostly influenced by organic shapes, plant biology, and the fragile balance of nature, he creates delicate pieces between sculpture and function. Concerned with sustainability, he only uses locally sourced wood and works mostly with hand tools.
If you had access to all the powers, how would you improve the world?
I think that kind of power will always be dangerous in the hands of a single human being, even with good intentions. We already have the power to improve the world, not as individuals but by acting together. And the most complicated thing is to deal with it. Giving everyone access to quality knowledge seems essential to me. Learning and sharing, for our civilisation but above all to preserve our environment, strive for harmony with the tiny world we live in.
What are the biggest sustainability challenges in your work and how are you addressing them?
My practice has always been highly sustainable, but I’ve been thinking for a few months about a way to reuse even the smallest wood scraps. The wood material never goes to waste, but the idea of setting aside quality wood just for size bothers me. A great opportunity to work on more sculptural pieces by playing on assemblies to compose from a multitude of small pieces.
Which conscious lifestyle choices are you making? And are you considering any new ones?
I consider myself a minimalist. I need simplicity to feel good. I don’t own or buy many things, always trying to part with all the things I don’t need, personally and professionally. I’ve always been interested in lightweight houses and plan to built something like tiny house on wheels or a cabin to live in. Or vanlife maybe. Keeping my professional activity reasonable is another important thing for me. Small businesses are good for health and for the planet on many aspects.
What have you rebelled against in the past, and what are you rebelling against now?
There are actually a lot of things to rebel against, but in my opinion it all has to do with our relationship to the world. The unconscious, selfish lifestyles and choices towards nature have always been incomprehensible to me. This has not changed. In search of comfort we have created distance and disconnection from our environment. Building another relation based on respect will take a long time, but trying is our responsibility.
What was the inspiration for your Steinbeisser pieces?
Nature, especially what is ephemeral and fragile. A bird landing on a flexible branch, which sways and finally comes to rest. Then leaves.
Describe your work in 3 words!
Organic. Sensitive. Delicate.
What has been your favorite dinner experience?
An improvised meal under my shelter after a long ride during a bike trip. Ordinary food can be delicious when you’re really hungry. Gastronomy is a true art which needs to be shared to be fully appreciated, but I think that the main thing is to realize the importance and meaning of eating, to deeply feel the energy that comes from it.
What excites you about tomorrow?
Sculptural works and hiking plans.