An experimental work on mining waste materials and landscapes, to suggest new experiences of our industrial heritages.

Valentin Devos
Béthune, France. Bangkok, Thaïlande
I am a French Industrial designer experimenting on anthropic landscapes, materials and their imaginary.
Team members
Jouve Amèliane
Devos Valentin
Field of work
Design, Research
Project category
Raising awareness
Project submitted

Born in 1999 in Béthune in Northern France, and graduated from ENSCI in Paris in 2022, I am currently an industrial designer and guest designer of the Innovation Design program at KMUTT University in Bangkok. First recognized in 2019 for my collaboration with a Japanese author and chef on a project called « La Cuisine des Nuages », I was awarded in 2022 by the French Ministry of Culture to carry out a research project about the mountains of mining waste in Northern France. By suggesting an exploration of their physical, mythological and cultural dimensions, I wanted to understand the social and environmental impact of the mining activity over the territory, but also question its relation with the design industry. Thus, as part of this project I organized in 2023 a creative design residency on the site of a slag heap, and an exhibition of my research in a local Mining Heritage Center called "La Cité des Électriciens ». This experience has left its mark on my practice, which is now oriented towards of a "situated" design, at this crossroad of experiments on anthropic landscapes, materials and their imaginary. Thus, I am still working on related research in 2024, especially for the School of Architecture and Design in Bangkok. Invited as a guest lecturer, I am in charge of a research class entitled "Design and Industrial Heritage" at KMUTT University. During this class, I teach and pursue a design-based research project on the heritage of tin mines in Thailand. Involving students in my research-through-design approach, and collaborating with researcher and local communities, my work here also focuses on creating a research dynamic through a cross-approach to two territories: Ranong province in southern Thailand, and the ALL - Autour du Louvres-Lens territory in Northern France.

What stories do the mountains of coal mining waste in Northern France tell us ? Based on a field investigation and a series of experimentation, this project was initiated to question and raise awareness on new anthropocenic forms of heritage, as well as considering new sustainable ways of living among the ruins of human exploitations. By using materials collected in the field, and taking actions directly in the landscape, this initiative aims to take the format of creative residencies, inviting local creatives and residents to think together about new experiences of the landscape and make these environments our own.

Initiated for the first time in 2022, I first presented the project's potential through an exhibition showing a personal exploration. During this first phase, and after days night spent on the slag heaps, I presented objects, installations and videos, immersing visitors in the scenario of a nocturnal exploration of the landscape. 
 The residency format, experienced for the first time in 2023, brought together designers and local residents on the site of a slag heaps for two weeks. Using raw materials collected on site - mainly a black clay soil and birch wood, we designed a series of ephemeral objects and installations, and conceived a dining experience under the sign of an intriguing emblem of the slag heaps: the sea urchin.
Today, after the success of the first experiments, which raised local curiosity and forged a new social bond in the neighborhoods, this initiative is looking for new opportunities and experiences in Northern France, but it also aims to expand internationally by studying and investigating new case studies.