First year undergraduate students from the BA (Hons) Design Management and Cultures course recently embarked on a study trip to Paris, along with their course leader, Maureen Salmon, and lecturer, Robert Urquhart.
During the trip, students took part in lectures at the Paris College of Art and explored global cultures through personal experience and the analysis the Paris’ sub-cultures, including its people, organisations and communities.
The following account of their trip is told through journal extracts from Robert Urquhart (RU) and French national student, Auriane Blum (AB), who is no stranger to Paris.
Monday 14 March
RU: After an early morning dash across the Kentish countryside, then under the Channel on the Eurostar, we arrived in Paris to the tooting of horns and rebel-rousing strains of the City’s railway workers declaring their right to strike.
RU: After settling into the hotel we took a train down to the River Seine for a boat trip. This was a perfect acclimatisation to the city: travelling the length of the city by boat allowed us to make out landmarks including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, The Louvre and Musee d’Orsay.
Tuesday 15 March
RU: Today we took a leisurely stroll down along the banks of The Seine river to take a look at Cite De La Mode et du Design, a venue dedicated to innovation and creativity.
RU: Staff and students made observations on the venue’s ambition and ambience, alongside comparisons to London’s Southbank Centre. Although there were no exhibitions underway during our visit, we were able to look at the architecture and enjoyed the views from the top of the building.
RU: After eating our picnic lunch, perched on the riverbank, we visited the Élizabeth Countess Greffulhe exhibition which demonstrated how the Countess’ beauty and elegance inspired the fashion designers of her era.
AB: I liked this exhibition as I read about the Countess in French Literature classes. The impact she had on art and design (fashion, flower arrangement, jewellery, poetry, music and drawing) was truly impressive.
Wednesday 16 March
RU: A highlight of the trip – we spent today at Paris College of Art and attended an international business class taught by Professor Karina Jensen and a conference on ‘luxury brand.’
AB: The lectures and conference were amazing. In a few hours, we learned the 10 rules of a luxury brand with the ex-CEO of Jean Paul Gautier, Donald Potard.
AB: We also met, Yasmine Abbas, Chair of Design Management at Paris College of Art, who described Design Management as “the art of seeing through complex situations and designing positive solutions for a variety of entities, requiring a high degree of creativity and understanding of people, processes and cultures.”
Thursday 17 March
RU: Today’s main activity was a visit to Pompidou Center, but first we stopped off for a talk and tour at NUMA – a hothouse of ideas with a high turnover of successful seed funded ventures. The students were impressed by the youth, energy and professionalism of the place.
AB: Our visit to NUMA provided an enlightening lesson on entrepreneurship: it’s not about the idea, it’s about applying it in real life.
Friday 18 March
RU: Our final day! The group was led around an exclusive tour of Foundation Louis Vuitton and a fantastic show of contemporary Chinese art.
RU: As we walked, reluctantly towards the station, everyone agreed that we’d experienced something more than just Paris as a famed city of culture. The bond we’d formed as a class, the knowledge we’d shared and the culture that we borne witness to, was far in excess of what we’d imagined.
[Images by Caterina Pomari]