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The art of craft, a new take on French entrepreneurship

— Nicolas Bard, Co-founder Make ICI

The art of craft, a new take on French entrepreneurship — Nicolas Bard, Co-founder Make ICI




Nathalie Mohadjer

After a brillant carrier in the most awarded advertising agencies Nicolas decided to switch completely to pursue a more ambitious dream: how to bring back French savoir-faire to the forefront by opening the first French third partie places fully dedicated to craftsmanship. Thanks to a huge success, spreading his model all over France, Nicolas became one of the most important ambassador of next-gen entrepreneurship «à la Française».

Can you quickly describe yourself?

After spending 17 years in advertising, I have been developing Make ICI since October 2012 with my wife and partner, the largest network of collaborative and supportive factories in France that help artisans and entrepreneurs in the field of « making » (artists, designers, architects, scenographers and small production companies) to learn, launch and develop their economic activity… 

Thanks to our shared workshops equipped with wood work machines, metal, fabric, leather, 3D, machining, our training, our own network business contribution of large accounts (promoters, entrepreneurs, archi, events organizers, galleries).

What are currently your favorite subjects?

On the personal side: wine and surfing, my 2 passions.
On the Pro side: art, craftsmanship, creative communities, third-parties places…

What would for you would be an emerging topic that is going to be important in our very near future?

The place of creative communities will gain in influence. In 5 years, there will be nearly 1,000 third-party production sites in France, spread throughout the country, in urban and rural areas. So many creative communities that will have the know-how, the networks, the skills to launch a new French renaissance based on this distributed manufacturing network that will be able to design, test and manufacture practically everything like works of art, connected objects, furniture, etc.

What are its challenges?

To federate ourselves in network because currently it is rather local communities, third places by third places which develop themselves in a radius of action of +/- 50 kms, rarely more.

What changes, opportunities can it bring?

As in the era of Colbert and Mitterrand, while taking inspiration from the Medicis, we must develop an economic strategy to level up France influence through placing at the heart of its system artists, craftsmen, content creators, and digital platforms. Pushing the creators entrepreneurs to be ambitious to develop their business by creating small or medium sized companies leaders of their category.

What are the traps, the dangers?

50 years of beliefs, mentality, and willingness to copy what is done elsewhere (Sillicon Valley, China) rather than pushing our strengths. In France we do not consider artists and craftsmen as entrepreneurs. We must identify the 100 nuggets of the sector and promote them like the Next40 for startups. Invite them to presidential trips abroad to sign contracts. Create a Netflix series that follows their hectic lives, enter workshops, dream sites, visit creators of innovative materials, machine manufacturers of the future, etc.

“In France we do not consider artists and craftsmen as entrepreneurs”

Who are the players in this market?

In addition to our KHOL (Kering Hermès L'Oréal LVMH), our schools that train the best craftsmen and designers in the world (ENSCI, Les Beaux Arts, Les Gobelins, Boulle), our cultural institutions that the world envies us (The Louvre, the Mobilier National, Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie d’Aubusson…),  but also 'Role Models' like the craftsmen of Art Charles Jouffre, Meljac, Steven Leprizé…, interior designers like Pierre Yovanovitch, Sarah Lavoine, India Mahdavi who 'sell our know-how’ and artists like JRs, DJ Snake, Othoniel and Xavier Veilhan.

How did you come into contact with this topic?

By living in Montreuil since 2002, a city that hosts an impressive number of creative talents. Through our contact with them, we identified needs that gave us the idea to open ICI Montreuil.

Where can we find out more?

By going into our Third-Party Production Facilities, by meeting new generations of artists and craftsmen in our schools in Paris, Marseille, Nantes, Dijon etc.