The Formettes by Agathe

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Agathe, in a few words…

Agathe Cornet-Vernet is a painter, Practitioner of Education and founder of Les Formettes. 

This French woman of origin was born in 1969 and received an artistic education from her earliest childhood. After a first approach to painting in the studio of Arno Stern, a free expression workshop, Agathe was attracted by the ancestral techniques of the first painters (tempera, egg painting), then was formed with oil painting.
All her learning was dedicated to the acquisition of these techniques according to the oldest mode of transmission from teacher to student. 

In 2002, Agathe decided to create his painting studio, called “Au bonheur de peindre”, in Neuilly sur Seine. The workshop will unfortunately close its doors in 2017 following her divorce.

As Agathe often says, “Painting and getting painted is my reason to be”!

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Her reasons for moving to Portugal

Agathe’s divorce was the main reason of her move. As a result, she lost her home and workplace, “Au bonheur de peindre” workshop, which was installed in a part of the family apartment, owned by her ex-husband.

Not having the means to stay in Paris, the founder of Les Formettes was convinced that the city of Neuilly sur Seine, for which she was very active as an administrator and association, was going to find her a small social housing and a room to continue her workshops. 

Unfortunately, not being able to stay in Paris, and wanting neither a suburb nor a province, she began to imagine going elsewhere, in a European capital. It thus proceeded by elimination to make her choice and the cities of Spain and Portugal remained in competition. Agathe contacted two former workshop moms who had moved to Lisbon, and they convinced her that there was a good opportunity to open a “Stern” workshop in the sunny city of Lisbon. 

They put her in contact with a school, the Redbridge School, where she was able to lead workshops over the last two years (2017-2019). Then, she stopped her workshops in Redbridge in September to focus on her project: Les Formettes.

The constantly rise of the rent prices in Lisbon, prevented her from setting up a workshop for children. Not speaking Portuguese right away was also complicated. 
Therefore, Agathe started a series of personal paintings wanting to dedicate it to Lisbon to thank this country and this city to welcome her and it’s from here that the azulejos come!

The birth of the Formettes project

In her artistic journey, Agathe explains that geometric forms have been present for a very long time. She made many coffee tables, including Carum (Game of Indian Billiards) with geometric patterns painted in false marble in the 90s. 

In her more recent paintings (2010), we find these geometric forms in her «travel» period inspired by Italy, Spain, Turkey and Morocco. Her taste for geometry probably comes from her father, who was an architect ; because mathematics was not her thing at school when she was younger.

She was very naturally charmed by the beauty and diversity of the tiles of the Lisbon facades. Agathe is also passionate about all the work of the balconies’ ironworks. It is a true source of inspiration for her. 

The idea for this new series was to paint frames with azulejos patterns and paint views of Lisbon inside. So, it started with the frames, long and tedious to carry out, but it would give her time to get to know her new adopted city in order to be inspired by its views.

To regularly reproduce its pattern, Agathe cut a small shape in a piece of plastic; and it was unknowingly the very first Formette! She thus realized the infinite possibilities of this small form. The latter was used to draw several different frames and gave her the idea of making it a tool that could be used by everyone.

She first tried it on children who came to her home in private lessons and immediately saw the extraordinary educational interest that it brought. The concentration of the children was impressive, and she saw that they were really using their 10 fingers!

Through several prototypes, Agathe sought the ideal material to create the Formettes and subsequently inserted other forms inspired by 16th century Portuguese azulejos.
She then looked for the right way to present these plastic inserts and the idea of the Lisbon Collection kit came through. 

Her dream is to be able to make kits with shapes from all over the world such as Seville Collection, Marrakech Collection….
Before assigning the name «Formette» to its concept, Agathe did some research to find out if this word existed and found the meaning: it is a mold in which the pulp is put during its manufacture. 

According to her, it sounded good, it was easy to remember and pronounce even for foreigners. This is how the Formettes project was born!

The objectives of the Formettes project

In the first place, the concept of Formettes is both playful and educational. But it is also spiritual and artistic because, unintentionally, it connects people with what they have most profound, namely their creative abilities.

The aim of the Formettes is to allow everyone to invent his pattern, to understand that we all have creative abilities and that we can exploit them. Formettes are there to help overcome the apprehensions of drawing that many people have. 

Once adopted, it becomes a game to look for new combinations and then the same drawing can become so different depending on the colors chosen.

The Formettes are a great tool to relax, decorate, do a family activity, and do math while playing.
Practice develops self-esteem, satisfaction, concentration, refocusing…

The Formettes can be used at home, at school, at leisure centers, in art schools, textile design, in retirement homes, in medical offices (art therapy, psychologists, rehabilitation centers, etc.).

For whom are the Formettes directed?

The workshops are an opportunity for families to do an activity together and each at its own level, without competition. It’s good for everyone. 

For young children aged 7/8, Agathe is very present to guide them a little more than for adults in general. But she had already run into a 7-year-old girl who didn’t need any explanation when she was in her second drawing, while her father had barely started his first.

Agathe’s challenge is to communicate her know-how and her passion for Formettes in both English and Portuguese during her workshops. Although this is not obvious at times, people are often kind and comprehensive.

In order to reach more local people, Agathe has just translated her site into Portuguese and English in order to make itself known more widely.

Regular workshops are suggested in the Lisbon Home and Re-Unir Newsletters to encourage people to come and discover the concept of Formettes.  

Agathe has a small group of regulars who come often and work on all kind of supports (canvas, wooden objects, trays, pencils, etc.).

Agathe’s projects in the upcoming months 

During this lockdown, Agathe took the opportunity to think about what she could improve on her product. She decided to direct her next kit production towards an Ecofriendly and 100% Portuguese production (the first one was made in Asia).

Numerous tests and prototypes were necessary to meet her quality requirements.

In order to better understand her creative concept, Agathe would like new broadcasters in Portugal (Porto-Algarve) and France as well as partnerships with hotels and companies for workshops. The goal is to develop and make known her commercial site.

The founder of Formettes would also like to develop a network of “ambassadors” art or ceramic workshops that would use the Formettes in their ateliers and could sell the kits at a preferential price.

Good luck, Agathe!

You can find the universe of Agathe and her Formettes via the following links:

formettes lisbonne