“In the cloud”, a light sculpture

Belle-île is an island off the coast of Brittany, best known for its water-sports, seafood, and its glorious coastline, which has inspired Monet and Matisse. More recently, it has become home to a group of four friends (Fabien Barbeau, Alan Le Chenadec, Mathieu Blin and Julien Froger) who have set up a glass blowing company, Fluïd Coop. Since 2008 they have worked with restaurateurs, galleries and private clients, sometimes collaborating with designer Philippe Daney.

We talk to Fabien Barbeau about their recent project for one of our clients, called ‘in the cloud’

How was the idea of Fluid born?

In 2008, there were four of us, all glass-blowers, who had known each other for ten years. We decided to join forces and set up a business, aspiring to a certain creative freedom. The idea was to share our strengths and pool our resources, making a cooperative. This makes us quite different from other glass blowing workshops and makes us push ourselves further.

How did you meet the clients?

They first came to our workshop in Belle-île. Very quickly they realised that we would be able to create a bespoke piece for them. We were very proud that they thought our shop ‘the best shop on the island’. From that moment, a trusting relationship began to form.

Did you have to follow a strict brief or did you have “carte blanche”?

Both! Philippe, the designer of the piece, benefited from a great freedom of expression. We started with some key words: space, light, and a selection of 6 colours from our colour swatches. However the timing required was very short (3 months) and we really had to push our limits.

How did you conceive the design and colours for ‘In The Cloud’?

We received little specification from the clients but their ideas were very precise. Philippe Daney, a great dreamer and a passionate man, transformed their words into a bold, balanced proposition. It was an amazing challenge for our team, but we knew it would be a great success.

What were the challenges of creating and installing the piece?

It takes years for a glass blower to master the techniques, especially to create shapes that are symmetrical on both sides of the axis, like a woodturner. The shapes designed by Philippe Daney for ‘In the Cloud’ were asymmetrical so we had to un-learn, and make mistakes… And the more mistakes there were, the happier Philippe was!

What did you enjoy the most in the creation of ‘in the cloud’? What is your most memorable time?

When your clients are the driving force, when the designer loves the idea, and the whole team is motivated, then everything becomes enjoyable. But the most memorable time was probably when we actually installed the piece. It was the cherry on the cake, the reward of our work.

How long did it take from the conception to the installation?

We had to deliver the piece within three months. We needed two months of intense work to blow the glass pieces. Installing the work took a week on site.

How many people worked on the project? Can you tell us a little bit more about their roles?

The clients were with us throughout the process. It was important for us to get their approval for each step.

Philippe had a good knowledge of the space and his professionalism was decisive. His presence was very reassuring, and he brought us many technical solutions. This meant the glass blowers at Fluïd could use their time to work on the ideas properly.

And finally what a pleasure to work with you, the Goodbody & Co. team! You provided us with the all-important technical analysis of how and where the piece will hang, and the help of your team on site was essential.

Not to forget all the specialised suppliers who we worked with: at least about 20 people were involved on this project.

Do you create a lot of piece of that size?

Not yet… But we are really looking forward to creating some more. Focusing on one piece over a long period of time and working as a team of various specialists gave a fascinating professional dimension to Fluïd.

What are your future projects?

We are working on a musical project with Philippe Daney. It is called Crisalis. The project is to blow and tune 36 large black glass ‘warheads’, making a giant percussion instrument. Eric Serra and Daniel Humair can’t wait to play on it!

For more information about Fluïd coop and to see their recent creations, visit their website