Shopping Once upon a time

Henri, stylish and virtuous

© Henri, Atelier Emmaüs
By Marie
Published on 15/09/2022

Created by the local designer Lisa Lejeune for Atelier Emmaüs in Villeurbanne, Henri is much more than just a piece of furniture; it embodies the coming together of design and social inclusion.

Founded in Villeurbanne in 2017, Atelier Emmaüs is a carpentry workshop and school that promotes inclusiveness and the environment. It aims to help people facing social inclusion challenges, by providing them with training in design and craftsmanship.

As soon as the school was founded, its director Guillaume Poignon approached Lisa Lejeune to come up with an item that could be made by apprentices using the whole range of woodwork skills. This is how Henri came to be.

Lisa Lejeune describes it as “a functional item, and not a work of art (…). A little storage unit that people can easily find a place for in their homes.”

 What makes Henri particularly attractive are the beautiful colours (“to make it likeable”) and stylish retro slanted legs. To make it, “you need to learn to use all of the machines used in woodworking. Making the legs for Henri also involves using a gauge and specific machinery,” adds the creator. An important detail: like all items produced at Atelier Emmaüs, Henri is made using recovered materials, in this case rejected chipboard panels and scrap wood. Each part is numbered and signed with the first name of the person who made it at the workshop.

The story behind the furniture

The name ‘Henri’ was inspired by the founder of the charity Emmaüs, Abbé Pierre, whose real name was Henri Grouès. The shape of its legs are a tip of the hat to the logo of Atelier Emmaüs, an organisation that “creates bridges between people of different backgrounds, and a link between design and social inclusion.” It is filled with symbolic meaning. In 2021, it was included in the collections of Le Mobilier National, a former furniture storage warehouse for the French king, which, since the seventeenth century, has supported craftsmanship and artistic professions, particularly creative projects that combine design and ethical artisanry. Henri is made and sold directly at the workshop in Villeurbanne, alongside other designer objects, such as ‘Georges’, ‘Hélène’, ‘Lucie’ and ‘Philibert’. They were created by the likes of Ionna Vautrin, Studio 5.5, Ferréol Babin and Neue, and also named in tribute to men and women who have left their mark on the history of Emmaüs. 

To adopt Henri, place an order on the website and pick up your new friend at 182 Rue de la Poudrette, Villeurbanne.