The Making of Christmas

For this holiday season, a decor was made from scratch by Studio Artefact to furbish the fountain of the Complexe Desjardins in Montréal, Québec. The project was inspired by the valet shopping service named Lëon, which is also the reverse of “Noël”, for Christmas in French. From metallurgy to painting and glitter, Studio Artefact designs decor for public and private spaces alike, and Christmas is the high season. 

At the heart of the production process is Simon Beaudry, the head of the Sculpture, Accessories and Sewing departments at the design production company. He has worked as a sculptor there for five years, after being introduced to the craft by the former head of the department, late Jean Falardeau. Simon started working in the warehouse of Studio Artefact during his summers in secondary school. He worked where he was needed, from the warehouse to carpentry, and little by little his curiosity allowed him to learn about the artistic side of production. Simon learned to use different sculpting tools – simultaneously avant-garde and artisanal, and moulding techniques that were based on trial and error. After working in daycare centres for some time, he was called to replace someone on maternity leave at Studio Artefact and has worked there ever since. His versatility and problem-solving skills made him the best candidate to bear the responsibility of three departments – sculpture, accessories and sewing. 

While Simon has the looks of Santa Claus, his work is closer to that of an elf. In his dusty and messy workshop, Simon runs in all directions amid seemingly random objects.  But his work is highly meticulous, and essentially consists of attention to detail and troubleshooting. Although technology has largely transformed his craft, there is still a lot of manual work to be done. When he started as a sculptor, most of his time was spent sculpting, from styrofoam moulds to final projects. Now, and since a recent collaboration with Cirque du Soleil, the Studio went from having one 3D printer to six of them. 

The Lëon project started with the graphic design and conceptualization of the four characters, which were then sent over to technicians for the 3D modulation. The four Lëon characters – an ice skater, a chef, a conductor, and an elf were all made of resin, using a laser technique more appropriate for pieces with high definition. After all the pieces were printed in 3D, Simon added details and made the necessary modifications. Assembling, fine tuning and repairing are Simon’s main tasks. 

The boreal fountain and its four characters is not the first project the studio designed for the Complexe Desjardins. A giant luminary Lëon and the largest 3D printed tree in the world also stand on the lower floor of the shopping centre, as the designs are made to be deconstructed and last ten to fifteen years. The boreal fountain will remain on site until January 2, but Simon’s work will be reused at the Complexe Desjardins next year and for many more to come. 

Simon Beaudry enters his workshop at Studio Artefact in Montreal, Quebec November 24, 2021. ALEXIS FIOCCO/Concordia
Simon Beaudry assembles pieces on a character in his workshop in Montreal, Quebec November 24, 2021. ALEXIS FIOCCO/Concordia
Simon carries out the finishing touches in his workshop in Montreal, Quebec November 24, 2021. The utencil allows him to guide and spread the glue on the character’s hand. ALEXIS FIOCCO/Concordia
Simon Beaudry mixes different chemicals to make polyurethane foam in his workshop in Montreal, Quebec November 24, 2021. The foam will expand to take up the space and solidify the leg of one of the characters. ALEXIS FIOCCO/Concordia
Simon Beaudry drills into the wheels of the chef’s chariot in his workshop in Montreal, Quebec November 24, 2021. ALEXIS FIOCCO/Concordia
Simon Beaudry uses a Dremel tool to cut threaded rods on the wheels of the chef’s chariot in his workshop in Montreal, Quebec November 24, 2021. ALEXIS FIOCCO/Concordia
Simon Beaudry installs the ice skater onto the rotating plate in his workshop in Montreal, Quebec November 24, 2021. ALEXIS FIOCCO/Concordia
Simon Beaudry completes finishing touches on the conductor’s partition book in his workshop in Montreal, Quebec November 24, 2021. ALEXIS FIOCCO/Concordia
Simon Beaudry stands on a bucket to work on a sculpture in his workshop in Montreal, Quebec November 24, 2021. The chef’s tray was ripped off while resting on the floor, so Simon glues it back on the chef’s hand. ALEXIS FIOCCO/Concordia
Simon Beaudry cuts adhesive tape in his workshop in Montreal, Quebec November 24, 2021. The tape will keep the dome clean while its base is glittered up before it is added to the chef’s statue. ALEXIS FIOCCO/Concordia
Simon Beaudry poses for a portrait in his workshop in Montreal, Quebec November 24, 2021. ALEXIS FIOCCO/Concordia
Simon sets up the characters on the rotating plates at Complexe Desjardins in Montreal, Quebec November 27, 2021. The platform sits on a fountain in the centre of the mall for a Christmas sound and light show. ALEXIS FIOCCO/Concordia
Families watch the Boreal Fountain show at the centre of the Complexe Desjardins in Montreal, Quebec December 5, 2021. ALEXIS FIOCCO/Concordia
The Leon project is part of the Boreal Fountain sound and light show at the centre of the Complexe Desjardins in Montreal, Quebec December 5, 2021. ALEXIS FIOCCO/Concordia