Interview: Les Astronautes on Delirious Frites, Background and Future Plans

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Posted by Shapedscape     October 29, 2014    
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Les Astronautes Team Picture / From left to right : Robin Dupuis, Gabrielle Blais-Dufour, Alexandre Hamlyn

Les Astronautes have recently created 'Delirious Frites' a temporary urban installation in Quebec City, as part of a public space intervention event 'Les Passages Insolites'. Following the great impact of their work, we've asked the young team of Canadian designers made of Robin Dupuis, Gabrielle Blais-Dufour and Alexandre Hamlyn, where the inspiration came from for their successful project. In this short interview we also found out more about their background and future plans.

Shapedscape: Who are Les Astronautes and how did you start working together?

Les Astronautes: We are good friends who just like to work together, we formed the team for a competition. We enjoy a very strong creative dynamic between all of us and have complementary skills that were really useful to the project. We met in school. Robin and Alex have known each other since undergrad and met Gabrielle when she joined the school for her master's degree (after studying for a few years in Sweden).

Alexandre is finishing his master's degree in December at Laval University. He is a semester behind because he took a gap semester to work at BIG in Denmark following his student exchange. Gabrielle graduated the M.Arch at Laval University and an M.Sc in Sustainable Urban Design at Lund University and is now freelancing in Quebec City. Robin graduated and has been working on projects with the University particularly regarding indigenous populations in the North of Quebec. He has an education in woodwork and is also working on personal projects for furniture designs. We are all working on doing more projects for Les Astronautes, the crew expanded we are now 6 members and we look forward to partake in similar events.

SS: How would you describe your approach in design?

LA: Our approach in design is intimately linked with our name, we are called Les Astronautes (the astronauts), because we work with space. We are interested in creating total environments, surprising atmospheres that intrigue and throw people into a totally different world.

SS: Where did you get the inspiration for Delirious Noodles?

LA: The site itself allowed for such an intervention because of its anonymity and its narrowness. We decided to work with the pool noodles – called frites de piscine or 'pool French fries' in French, hence the title of our installation – pretty early in the process since the material allowed us to create something that was reminiscent of summer, colorful and fun but also something uncanny, organic and life-like, almost like vines in a jungle.

Delirious Frites installation designed by Les Astronautes in Quebec City, Canada ~ Shapedscape Interview ~ Landscape Architecture Matters

| See the full Project

SS: What were the most interesting remarks you have heard regarding your latest installation?

LA: Reactions to the installation have been amazing. We saw kids as much as adults laugh and play in our installation. Many people told us that how joyful of an environment we created and how they had never seen anything even close to it. We were surprised to see how much people were curious and wanted to make the detour to walk through it. As designers (almost architects!) it was very interesting to witness this anonymous and unused space become such an attraction. Some residents of the area even started to integrate the passage in their daily commute. Whether the reactions were positive or negative, one thing is certain, no one was indifferent to it and that was actually a great success for us.

We also were able to test the importance of social media in the diffusion of our work. #deliriousfrites became quite an Instagram moment! Another very interesting conclusion was to realize that people were not afraid to interact with our installation in part because they recognized what it was made of. Using a mass produced good created a context where the 'art piece' was not seen by the public as something precious and out of touch but as something they could very directly engage with. In that sense, I think we succeeded in creating authentic public art.

SS: What did winning the 1st prize, within the event Les Passages Insolites, mean to you?

LA: Actually, we have won a competition among the graduates of Laval University choosing a team who would participate in Les Passages insolites. There was no actual competition during the event. Winning the competition at school was significant because it allowed us to take from the idea to the actual construction which is a great experience.

SS: What will happen to the Delirious Noodles after the event?

LA: Delirious Frites will be dismantled! Whatever materials that are still in good shape will be reused. The remaining noodles will be distributed in some public pools in Québec City!

SS: How important are public spaces?

LA: Very important especially in our city where the climate is very cold, we have to make the most of the public space while we can enjoy it. Quality public spaces are very important!

SS: What are the qualities a public space should have?

LA: It should be pink, fluffy and narrow! Actually it should be surprising and make people want to stay.

SS: What would advise others working with space?

LA: Space is limitless so don't limit yourself!

SS: What would you like to achieve in the future?

LA: We are working on doing more projects with Les Astronautes, hopefully we'll be the next organization conquering space.

Images courtesy of Les Astronautes.

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