The designer Katherine Pradeau drew on the craftsmanship of a French accordion factory born in 1919 for her luxurious collection of minaudières and boxes with Maugein accordion colors. Meet.
The designer Katherine Pradeau – who worked alongside Lolita Lempicka, Sonia Rykiel … before launching her brand in 1996 – loves creations inspired by the wealth of craftsmanship and the dialogue of cultures. In 2005, with Tuareg artisans from Niger, she creates mixed collections based on their ancestral know-how and their « french touch ».
Thus are born creations during his travels in the Sahara and his artistic encounters (a scarf for the painter Sylvie Sarrazin). Another source of inspiration for her native Limousin is her savoir-faire, such as the Poinct de Tulle lace or this collection of minaudière bags and boxes with the French accordion factory Maugein.
How was this collaboration with the Maugein workshops born?
Katherine Pradeau : It’s the chance of a meeting in my area in Tulle in the Limousin. I worked to highlight the Poinct de Tulle, a lace fashionable in the eighteenth century but whose expertise was lost and I spotted a few years ago. I met an association of women who found this know-how and I contacted them. The city of Tulle wanted to highlight this lace, so I made a collection of dresses with this lace handmade. During the implementation of this project one of these women, originally from Limoges like me, brought me to visit Maugein. It is the oldest French manufacture of accordions. This French living heritage company is based in Tulle in Corrèze for 100 years. During this visit, CEO Richard Brandao showed me a 1920s mother-of-pearl accordion button that I found very beautiful. I then used it for one of the dresses in my collection.
Why a collection of minaudières?
The accordion factory Maugein sought to diversify. I spoke with CEO Richard Brandao to use their valuable expertise with my creative expertise. This is how the « Maugein by Katherine Pradeau » collection was born. We have decided to make bags-boxes (minaudières) equipped with a shoulder strap, a strap and a pompom. Each minaudière can be declined in version decorative boxes of different sizes (without bellows). This luxurious collection is aimed at a female clientele but some models can be worn on a belt … so a male clientele may also be interested.
It’s new for them to make a collection: usually, they only respond to requests from accordionists to make a custom product. Here each instrument is unique, because each musician is unique. There is a rigor in the choice of materials, especially for the different species of wood all from the region. There is also the work in the hand of marquetry (the cabinetmaker), the work of the leather, that of the bellows (the bellows) ….
What are the skills used?
I did not want a minaudière of the evening but an object which can be carried also the day. Today, the collection includes a dozen models – but I have plenty of ideas in the head – as well as a dozen boxes. For the 100 years of the Maugein manufacture, a legendary accordion is associated with a minaudière.
All the work is handmade. They are all made of Limousin wood: chestnut, apple and walnut. Either they stay natural or they are lacquered, sequined, iridescent, marbled …. They are then covered with several layers of paints (the drying between each layer is very long). The shoulder straps, the handles, the small leather accessories come from Limousin and the mother-of-pearl buttons used to close them are those used for accordions. Different know-how of the region are used as the Poinct de Tulle lace, entirely made by hand, but also ancestral know-how from other cultures such as leather goods and Tuareg smiths of Agadez in Niger. I had a version covered with leather. It is a cladding work done by Tuareg women with whom I worked for many years. Indeed since 2004, I realized with them bags and clothes but also jewels designed by the men of the village.
6 weeks and 10 steps are required to make each minaudière. They all have a name, that of an accordion according to the accordionist’s command. Just like at Maugein, where each accordion is unique, each minaudière and each box created can be a reflection of personal desires. There is a period of 2 to 3 months for each custom order.
You have worked with artisans in Niger. How do you find these skills? with Maugein?
I am used to working with artisans. Handicraft is a pretty universal job, one that uses the hand. According to the know-how, we remain in the same spirit, it is the cultures that change! Here in Maugein, it is the work of the wood, the precision of the cut, its assembly and the marquetry which bluffed me. The tuner’s work too was soothing to have in the background – when I was there – his little music when he tuned the instruments. The work of the bellow also interested me a lot: it is she who created the hinge of minaudières constituted by the cardboard of a bellows.
It’s not the same calendar as in fashion, here everyone takes their time. The difficulty was getting to see everything I could find in the factory. The CEO is not a creative but a technician, so we do not have the same approach. OHe did some testing, he had to tame. There were no difficulties but it took a long time to start … but the first two models released reinforced us.
What are the manufacturing know-how valued here?
The collection is a tribute to the rare gesture and exceptional know-how that can be found in the seven workshops installed in Tulle:
– The wood workshop: cabinetry and marquetry on all types of species …
– The metal workshop: Precision cutting, shearing and laser work …
– The workshop of soft materials (leather, fabric, felt, cardboard …): cutting, shaping, sizing and stitching
– The painting workshop with its custom colors, varnishes, lacquers, degraded effects, sequined, mottled …
– The decor workshop: wood engraving, inclusion, stencil, mother-of-pearl, gilding, pearls and rhinestones …
– The assembly workshop: assembly, welding, assembly fabric / wood and fabric / metal, electronic system …
– Accordion tuning.
Two exhibitions to discover the collection « Maugein by Katherine Pradeau »
This collection is presented at the exhibition « Un Marchand Un Artiste » which celebrates artistic creation in all its forms from May 18th to June 30th (Biron Market, 85, rue des Rosiers and Marché Dauphine, 132-140 rue des Rosiers. 93400 Saint-Ouen). Then, she will go to the Festival « Nacre Nights » from June 27 to 30 in Tulle.