ESAIL was founded in 1984 by Jean Cottin, a registered architect (DPLG) and a former student of noted architect and city planner Tony Garnier. Its first home was the former Vaise fort, in Lyon.
Interior architects and interior decorators design interior spaces. Transmitting the art of design is in itself an ambitious teaching mission. Indeed, what is the best way to prepare students to imagine something that does not yet exist spatially but which is supposed to become a physical reality? Designing new spaces requires knowing how to navigate through seemingly contradictory fields. It requires being imaginative yet rigorous, knowing how to move between the abstract and the concrete, possessing an artistic sensibility and an interest in things technical, having your own way of thinking and knowing how to satisfy the demands of a standardised world, balancing wants with economic realities.
ESAIL’s educational curriculum is designed to tap into and develop these skills, which students apply and synthesize in a number of projects. The level of synthesis increases with each passing year, ultimately guiding students toward a way of thinking that enables them to handle increasingly complex data. Upon graduating, students possess a diverse skillset that enables them to respond to the different situations they will encounter in their professional careers. This requirement of the profession is embedded in the curriculum. ESAIL maintains relations with the profession by inviting practitioners to give lectures, through mandatory internships at the end of each year and school exercises with real-world customers.
ESAIL also intends to remain on a human scale. It is meant to be a place conducive to communication, with an atmosphere that drives a dynamic and great personal investment. It is a place where students study with passion and rigour to be ready to join the professional world.