Having worked in Montreal for many years, Guyon returned to his native village for this personal project, which was selected as the winning design of the Furniture Category at the World Interiors Awards 2015 in London, "charming" the judges with the personal narrative and sensitivity of his Sail Benches, according to a press release.
The concept of the project was to create both functional street furniture and a poetic monument to the original founders of Verchères, honouring a time without roads when travel was done mainly via sea. The benches are made of white oak – the original wood used in the 17th century for sailboats and barrels – concrete, and metal. With the work weighing in at 900 pounds, as well as the unpredictable weather of the St Lawrence, great lengths were taken by the engineering team to make the project both structurally foolproof and poetic. The final result is both ergonomic and evocative of the movement of sails.
Recognised for his artistic approach to design, with a synthesis of local materials in Quebec, Félix Guyon attracted the attention of the municipality of Verchères.
"When the municipality asked me to work on this project, I was immediately excited and also very inspired. Giving me the opportunity to work on a monument honoring the village of my childhood and his ancestors - and giving me almost carte blanche - was a dream, and a way for me to say thank you to all those who built the place I love today,” said Guyon.
Important to the project was the expression of collective pride that was been resonant through the generations of people living in Verchères. Like other great undertakings in the village’s history, the Sails Benches was made possible through the cooperation of local artisans, creating a monument for future generations.
For Félix Guyon, the project marks a return to his roots and search for his own artistic essence. Having worked and studied in France, London and Montreal, Guyon returned to his hometown Verchères hoping to find inspiration from the people of the village. He hopes to continue the tradition of artisanship throughout his family history; the name of his company Les Ateliers Guyon originating from the design company founded by his family.
"My grandfather was a cabinetmaker and manufactured Verchères boats in the 1940s. My father and mother still carve Plexiglas. From generation to generation, we have always had a love of working with our hands, making something from scratch,” he said. “Now that it’s my turn to be the artisan in the family, I hope to instill the same values in my nearly year-old son; the willingness to work hard, create something you love, and have a real passion for a job well done!”