ABURY meets the Designer Adam French

Posted on 26 April 2017

Adam French is a Canadian designer and the creative mind behind our new Windows & Doorways Collection. For many years he worked as an information technology specialist across Canada, before he shifted his focus to creative arts and fashion. To be precise, Adam returned home in 2010 to begin developing his own leather fashion accessories brand as Adan Ballou. He developed a great interest for the tanning of leather and has not only researched various methods but also developed and applied his own techniques to tan leather. This practical and hands-on approach to design, always considerate of sustainable practices, is an excellent basis to work and collaborate with craftsmen.

In 2016, Adam French became the winner of the second edition of the ABURY Design Experience, the international design competition initiated by ABURY. For two months he lived and worked with the local artisans in Marrakech, Morocco, and developed the new ABURY collection called Windows & Doorways. Today Adam lives on a small farm in rural Manitoba, Canada.

I spoke to Adam French about his designer hands, about Morocco's chicken tajine and about his collection:


Adam French, we believe that “hands tell stories“. What do your hands tell about you?

If eyes are windows to the soul, hands would be tools of the heart. What people can do with their hands says allot about them.  If you want to look into someones heart by examining their hands, look towards the things that have become second nature to do with them. The products of an artist's hands are like a silent voice to the observant. I know how to tie a knot, use a knife, sew, braid, cast, forge, and carve. Also, I draw, play music, write, cook, & fix machines. I pet my cats & dog allot, and I often make my own tools. I love making pretty things. 


What is the last thing you created with your hands?

I'm often fixing things to solve or repair a problem of some sort. I make things with my hands every day. I made myself a sandwich for lunch, and right now I'm working on another handbag.



close up of the designer working on a bag© Photo by Miloud Maknoun


If you could choose, what would you like to be able to do with your hands?

I think it would be cool to be able to heal people with my hands, or magic would be allot of fun. I like mixing my skills to create things that haven't yet been seen, this in fact is the reason I research and experiment as much as I do. My feet on the other hand; I can't dance, I know this :)


Looking back on everything you’ve done in your life - What is the one thing you are proudest of?

I am proudest of the things I haven't given up on. 


Our blogzine “One of a mind” underlines our strong belief in equality and the value of sharing. How does intercultural exchange benefit our global society in your eyes?

When I was 17, I moved to Mexico. I supported myself teaching English & modelling for a year. That experience had a profound influence on how I saw myself and the world. My recent adventure in Morocco challenged my views again, reminding me  how big the world is, and how small I am in it. Every time I see something I've never imagined to dream before, the source of my inspirations expands. My perceptions focus and my opinions gain nuance and texture. I believe that it is human nature to do this, or run, from situations we have yet to comprehend. I am certain that any and every opportunity to exercise empathy is one to be seized because I think that the experience stretches your soul like yoga dose for the body. 



artisans and designer working together in morocco© Photo via Adam French


You were the 2nd ADEx winner and went to Marrakech to design our new capsule collection. In your opinion, what differentiates Morocco from other countries? What does it have that no other culture has?

When ever I go some place new, I can't help but look for similarities to other places I've been. Some things you see everywhere like meat in bread, scooters are common in warmer countries, but Morocco was very different from much of what I'd known. The religious faith and the way it was openly expressed was striking. The Medina itself was very strange to live in, day to day life was very different. I've found that each each culture has an aesthetic, something distinct. In Morocco, I could see the symbols of many different cultures blending together, the history of each element telling a part of its unique story.


In the three months that you were there, what was your most memorable moment?

That is impossible to say. There are so many. I've often been hit with memories that I hadn't recalled before. I'll end up standing there for 5 minutes, starring into space, completely lost in a wave of memories. I'm pretty sure these moments of nostalgia will continue for a while. 


adam french in a souk in marrakech

© Photo via Adam French


Talking about other senses - how would you describe the “Tastes of Morocco” and what is your favourite?

Chicken tajine. Olives, nuts, & orange juice; I liked all of these things before, but tajine was something really unique. Like dozens of little personal pot roasts, it was available everywhere. I've spent time in places where the street food can be deadly, but I was surprised to discover this was not the case in Morocco. I regularly ate street food in the last weeks I was there. Part of my daily routine was to get breakfast in the street on my way to the square, get a glass of orange juice in the square, and a tiny cup of strong Arabic coffee from a friend I made named Abdil who served them close to the bus stop on my way to the studio. 


We are very excited about the launch of the “Windows and Doorways” collection, designed by you, Adam French. Which one is your favourite piece of the collection and why?

I am very happy with the harmony of the various elements you see in all the designs. I like the simplicity of the silhouettes, and the depth they create on an otherwise simple bag. Lastly, I love the lining material, and the pocket design.


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