TR: Gauthier Roussilhe

Talking Repairably with Gauthier Roussilhe. We met at the Design Does event in Barcelona, and it became obvious instantaneously that Gauthier´s words will be a mental energetic drink for our readers. Gauthier is an autonomous designer, teacher and thinker.


How would you define your design philosophy in 1 phrase?
Engaging a minimum of resources for maximum transition.

How would you describe the ideal/ target user of the products you design?
I don’t want to design only for a user as ‘user’ implies to design for a human persona. We need to start thinking of designs that will not be ‘used’ in the anthropocentric sense of it, of non-humans (water, animals, beliefs, etc) that will adjust rather than use. The human / non-human relationship gains more weight in my practice and I’m not putting ‘humans’ in the middle anymore, I want to it back in a whole system from which they’re not the master. My ideal target is a small-scale territory with its specific human community, flora, fauna, climate, belief systems, infrastructures.

What is the design you are most proud of?
I don’t really seek pride in my practice because I’m always careful about not inflating my ego.  Ego tends to fixate itself on what we declare “finished products” and I don’t consider any of my work finished and I’m bad at finishing projects anyway. Having said that there is a recent project I was really happy of the discussions I had. I went to Rhyl, a town in North Wales, and looked at their history of flooding. People I’ve met made me realised that the sea defences construction was stuck as building ore defences will only mean to displace floods down the coastline to another town. They’re facing a situation where they need to absorb the next coming floods without being more protected in a traditional sense of it, so how to absorb without increasing the protection and how to raise awareness in the population. I worked on a board game as a pedagogical conversation starter between the local volunteers and people that are the most endangered. The game is not great but now I’m pushing the project forward so people from Rhyl can start to design their own games to discuss and show how they perceive the coming change.

Denbighshire Adaptation Game by Gauthier Roussilhe

What is your main professional goal for the future?
I’ve two paths I want to follow and that might intertwine in the future. I want to do a PhD by practice in Design that focuses on transition from a world (supposedly) with unlimited resources and energy to a world with limited resources and energy. I also want to do my part teaching the next generation of designers to work with the anthropocene factor, to engage in politics and engage on a territory-based practice (eco-centred). Secondly I would like to go back to my father’s village and engage in the transition of its infrastructures and governance, it might imply to become the mayor or a councillor there. So my main professional goal is to help future designers how to shift their practice in the context of climate change and all its implications and to work on my father’s village’s transition.

Is there a designer or a producer you would assign as green or sustainable?
Right now most of what design industry (with an emphase on industry) does not produce green or sustainable propositions as the thrive for scale of an industry is generally counter-productive with sustainability. There are many people having a design practice without naming it that way, this design practice for me doesn’t refer at the thrive for innovation or creativity that we normally hear from the industry’s discourse. The design practice I’m talking about refers to these actors that do not only “adapt” to their environment but that understand that they’re also adjusting their environment to them and apply extra carefulness. If this is the design practice we’re talking about then I don’t have any producer and product designer in mind (also because my design culture is quite limited) but there’s a design magazine I always liked as it proposed a careful look: “Works that work”.

Works that work, Magazine

What inspires you in the environment/ country you work in?
I live on London even though I don’t like to live in big cities. Sometimes I’m spending time in the english or welsh countryside because it’s really fascinating for me to see the difference between french and english countryside. Also I’m reading about economic development of England during the 19th century so it’s really interesting to observe the consequences of enclosure on the english countryside, the loss of farming lands, the industrialisation of english urban areas, coal industry etc.

Question designer to designer:
This time by: Ferdinand Chrenka from VSVU/ Feromon design studio

What does the human not need to live?

High technological comfort


What comes to your mind when you think of:

  • waste: externality
  • repairably: necessary
  • plastic (as material): human print
  • circular economy: a limited step towards transition
  • smart phone: rationing
  • your favorite kitchen appliance: rice cooker
  • your grandmother’s favorite kitchen appliance: chimney
  • best human invention: philosophy
  • best invention of this century: we should stop inventing and start maintaining

thx to:

Gauthier Roussilhe