Begun in 2009, Collectif Etc is a French design collective which seeks to support urban experimentation and discovery. Like many of our honorees, Collectif Etc. began when its members were in their student days. Collectif Etc. maintains that the traditional construction of the city is vertical and hierarchical, dominated by politics and separated by professional lines (e.g. planners plan, architects design buildings, etc.). The fact that all the actors conduct their activities in prescribed ways, at prescribed times, yields rigid and unsatisfactory results. The group believes that all actors can be involved – often in ways that disrupt their traditional roles. Moreover, inhabitants also have a role to play in the shaping of a city, and do not need to be confined to the role of passive recipient of a designer’s intent.
Like EXYZT, the group believes that involving the public in the design process as an equal contributor is essential to creating good public space. Similarly, their modes of production are varied and are crafted in response to the needs of the project. They have experimented with built works, but also with urban furniture, light devices, as well as organizing conferences and workshops.
Collectif Etc is perhaps best known for its Detour de France endeavor – a roving series of twenty projects conducted across France. The group took a caravan on the road, stopping in multiple cities to execute projects. They would stay one to two weeks, and typically spend less than €2,000 at a stop. Collectif Etc collected most project funds as donations from the relatives of the group’s own members. Each stop was in itself a statement. The group reached out to other design collectives throughout Europe (including EXYZT and Atelier d’Architecture Autogeree) and stopped to work with them. Detour de France was essentially a meta-project, where the group positioned themselves as interlocutors and germinators of a conversation about public space throughout France.