Anaïs Sandra Carion

The Diary of Anaïs Sandra Carion, Managing Director of MAD Brussels, MM Award 2023 jury member. Welcome to Caleido, an inspirational diary, that narrates many stories: about creative people, trends, travels, objects. / Read the Editor’s letter here

Diary of: @anaissandracarion

Anaïs Sandra Carion
Anaïs Sandra Carion
1. When you think of creativity and design, what is your first personal memory?

Two childhood memories. The first one, which is about liberating your own creativity, was thanks to my mother. She used to organize those creative summer camps at home during the summer. Most of my friends and I were used to hearing at school what we should draw. My mother just told us, for one of our first assignments, to just let our hand guide the pencil on the paper. After 5-10 minutes, she asked what those lines were expressing and if we could discern a shape or if it brought us some emotions drawing it or looking at it. I really remember this because, for me, it was part of the normality, but looking at my other friends, I found out no one really asked them once to liberate their creativity… The second childhood memory was still with my family, during Interieur Expo in Kortrijk: while my parents would be staying at their booth, my sister and I were wondering about the many original booths of the fair. I still remember this lightening company which had created an igloo with… hot chocolate!Well, maybe that’s a good tip for any brand: try to reach out to a kid, and he/she will remember you his/her whole life.

2. You are the managing director of MAD Brussels (@madhomeofcreators). I recently read this provocation, which I will pass on to you: do we still need design weeks and museums now that everything is accessible from the comfort of home? 

Oh, for sure… Milan Design Week has been part of me for years; I would nowadays not imagine a year without visiting it. It gives me so much input, beauty and knowledge. You can’t have that through a computer. Touching, seeing, trying out and looking in real life at a design piece is fundamental. But fairs are also about meeting people you don’t know, discussing with them, and hearing their passion when they speak about their work. No augmented reality fair can give you that. But it’s all about balance. I believe they can complete & help each other. For example: imagine how an augmented reality action or event could finance a real-life fair? 

3. What are the most recurring themes that contemporary artists and designers deal with? Are there topics that you perceive as urgent and that you would like to explore in your work?

For sure, the environmental topic around the production is the biggest topic nowadays. The design industry is further in that process than fashion. Not only is the topic urgent, but it should be at the base of every production and creative reflection. I also believe that constraints & challenges bring more creativity out of everyone! Suppose I should add a topic which I believe is often forgotten, it human well-being. People speak about sustainability but only regarding energy & materials consumption. Let’s not forget human health, but also mental health and well-being should be an n°1 topic!

Anaïs Sandra Carion
Courtesy by Anaïs Sandra Carion
4. In your work, you are always in contact with various generations of creative people. What aspects of an emerging artist appeal to you the most?

We are indeed in contact with different generations of artists and emerging or already well-established artists. In general, I like to connect with everyone and believe a lot in inter-generational collaborations: people with different backgrounds & from different generations can together create something amazing! Where-as, as MAD fashion & design centre, we exist to help young emerging artists to establish themselves in a viable economic way in the fashion and design industry. What I love about this, and that I loved in my previous work with Hermès as well is that we can help them to build a future. We can make a difference!

5. What are the new media that art and design use as communication channels? Which examples have particularly impressed you?

I am quite traditional if you ask me about my preferences… I remain quite impressed by old-school ways of communicating. But, sometimes, I have to admit how new communication channels can be interesting: someone lately in Brussels explained to me how they created NFTs of Art Nouveau buildings, and by communicating and selling them, they were actually using the profits to repair the real-life building here in Brussels.

6. As a MM Award judge, what characteristics will you look for in the projects of the candidates? 

I always say that when I am part of a jury, I am usually someone that looks less at the design itself, but I always look at things such as: can the candidate present well his/her project orally? Has the whole project a red thread, and is it 100% coherent? Is the project coherent regarding the target, where to reach it, and the positioning within the market… so I look at it more from a business way, with a circular economy and environmental attention. And yes, considering my communication background, I believe that a project with a financial food plan and a good strategy and communication can make it, independently of the product itself. This is a pity considering the number of amazing projects I see, but where the designer maybe needs extra business support. That’s where I hope MAD is and will be able to make a difference for all those profiles.

Anaïs Sandra Carion
Courtesy by Anaïs Sandra Carion
7. We met at the beginning of your professional career as a journalist. To date, who would you like to interview? What questions would you ask him/her? 

Yes, I still remember those times as our golden age together. We had fun, we were a team buzzing with ideas and curiosity towards the world… and mostly, we learned and met so many amazing people through the years. If nowadays I could interview someone, it would definitely be the founding partners of @Snohetta (international architecture, landscape architecture and interior design firm with headquarters in Oslo). And, more than an interview, I would dream of being seated at the same table for dinner and understanding their mindset and ideas… because they keep impressing me with their projects. Nowadays, I like more and more the spontaneous conversations that can be born between people. 

8. Can you recommend 3 names of people who, in the course of your career, have particularly fascinated you to start following on social media?

I don’t really consider myself fascinated by people. If I really appreciate discussing with someone, or a designer, I just like to keep in contact on social media just to be able to meet up again. Curiously, I think interesting people in life are boring on social media, and vice versa!

9. The MAD Incubator programme is an essential and important part of MAD Brussels. It is one of the three pillars of the institution: it supports designers and creatives who aim to question the current challenges of the fashion and design industry and society in general. Tell us about this project. How does it develop?

In general, MAD accompanies designers through different programs, from the MAD starters program (open to everyone) to the MAD Fly (companies being established for at least one year and selected by a jury). The MAD incubators program is the most complete, as it includes a studio for 2 full years with the productions tools necessary to create prototypes, 25 hours with experts according to the designer necessities, as well as other additional activities such as workshops at Boisbuchet, open-calls with companies and the city of Brussels (example: the creation of a nursing bench for the city of Brussels) or visits of companies. We currently have 10 designers from both the fashion and the design world, with so much different knowledge, techniques and abilities. It’s quite impressive. To name a few of them, Mipinta was nominated last year at Festival de Hyères, Guillaume Slizewicz, which will be part of the exhibition of Fake Authentic in Milan at the arts & science museum or Studio Minimètre that produces from biomaterial & waste.

10. What is an object in your home that you would never give up? What is the memory attached to it? Would you send us a photo taken by you?

I am not a person who gets really attached to material things. I think there is a time for everything. But if you ask me the question today of which design piece I want to hold on to, it would definitely be this Bauhaus chair my father “gave” me.

Anaïs Sandra Carion
Courtesy by Anaïs Sandra Carion

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