Today, I’d like to share this striking statement piece handcrafted (and by that, I mean it is actually cut by hand!) by Francois Langin. It is made of American walnut, African makore and English sycamore. Here, the artist, renowned for his furniture design and master carpentry work, shares his inspiration for the work and how he came to find himself in America. It’s truly an amazing story and I find it especially fitting as Independence Day is fast approaching.
“I have, for quite some time, had on my mind this idea of “Our Flag.” I grew up in the French Alps, close to Geneva. My dad was a French paratrooper who later became a pioneer in the tourism industry. My mom was a nurse who was involved in local charities.
Every summer people from different nationalities came to the campground resort that they established to seek rest and enjoy the surrounding attractions, such as the lake of Annecy, the nearby snow-capped mountains and the beautiful countryside. I realized at a very early age, perhaps as young as 3 or 4 years old, that I wanted to work with wood. Everything about it was mesmerizing; the color, the scent, the beauty, the feel of it when perfectly sanded. A flame was lit inside of me that was never to be dimmed.
Luckily, I was near great schools and resources, which were available to me to learn how to exploit this beautiful medium. There came a time when I realized that the place of my birth was too confined to truly express myself fully, which led me to go see the world. Projects in Morocco, The Philippines and a few other countries gave me the opportunity to expand and refine my craft and designs. Ultimately, it took me to the United States when I landed at JFK, New York on February 2nd.
It was the first time that I set foot in America; a place bigger than anything I could ever imagine. With 300 Swiss Francs, the equivalent of $50 in my pocket, a few words of English and a curiosity bigger than my fears, America was to become my new home. New York City was the entire world realized in one place. It truly was an assembly of all the nations seeking the opportunity to pursue a better life. To me, it was a mind-blowing experience. I was fortunate to be involved with some of the best interior design projects during my few years there, but I knew that it was time to open my own atelier. I decided to move west, like the 49ers who had done so a century and a half ago, with the same hopes of seeking my fortune. On a motorcycle journey west, which took 23 days, I was delighted by the encouragement and the support of the people whom I encountered. I was fascinated by these American people whom I had never met before. My thoughts were, “where else is there a place with so much energy, positivity and forward-thinking?” It was a revelation to me concerning the spirit of my newly adopted home and I relished the opportunity to tap into its spirit.
In the many years after settling in Southern California, I have met many people who are truly making the world around them a better place. In particular, I count among my many friends individuals such as a US Recondo LRRP (long range reconnaissance patrol) and mountaineer with whom I have enjoyed rock climbing for more than a decade, and an airline captain who served in the Marine Corps. They embody the hard work, training, discipline, altruism, and steadfastness required to make anything possible and I am fortunate to have them as my friends and mentors.
With my interpretation of “Our Flag,” I want to portray the image that I contain in my heart which denotes the people, the opportunities, and the promises of a glorious future this land has always and will always offer.”
Special Note: Per the Artist’s request, 20% of the sale of Notre Drapeau will be donated to Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which ensures full financial assistance for a post-secondary degree from an accredited two or four-year college, university, technical, or trade school; and offers family and educational counseling, including in-home tutoring, to the surviving children of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations personnel who lose their lives in the line of duty.