Prix Gaïa 2011 – François Junod. Craftsmanship-Creation category

An automaton-maker inspired by the tradition of great watchmakers from the 18th century, François Junod studied for a diploma at the school of fine arts in Lausanne and undertook an apprenticeship as an automaton-restorer after he completed his studies at a technical school.

He established his workshop in Sainte-Croix (in the Vaud canton), which is the creation center of automata musical instruments.


While he felt a strong connection to the art and traditions initiated by the Jaquet-Droz automata, he also wished to add a significant touch of modernism and contemporaneity to his creations. And so, together with a group of collaborators, he worked on several projects for wealthy individuals, companies and communities. The automata François Junod imagined and created all bring us into a world of poetry and dreams.

François Junod Automate

However, make no mistake, the individuals and creations that have been inspired by history or the present times hide gears and geartrains that work so perfectly that they are not remembered, and thus they exude a magical aura, as the designer wanted. 

The creations

The following depicts three of Junod's creations. Introduced in 2000, the Tapis Volant was made for the centenary of La Semeuse in La Chaux-de-Fonds. It was an automaton picturing tradition where a Turkish man sits on his flying carpet quietly sipping his coffee.


In 2007, under the antique clock of the city hall in the greater Madrid conurbation, Leganés, Junod placed six life-size automata that paraded twice a day - a herald, a Spanish dancer, a horse, two children playing ball and a grandmother all move in a procession similar to the automata clocks of the Middle Ages.

In 2010, viewers marveled at the introduction of the world's most accomplished android, Alexandre Pouchkine - not only did it write, but it also wrote randomly, and taking the art of automaton-making complication even further. And so, in automaton form, Pouchkine continued his literary work as 24 words gave it the possibility to make 1458 combinations to write short two-stanza poems. 

The jury of the Prix Gaïa deemed it necessary to honor the creator and designer who has breathed life into his creations to the great pleasure and admiration of all.

And receive each week a custom selection of articles.

Prix Gaïa 2011 – Pierre-Yves Donzé. History-Research category

Currently a fellow researcher at the Osaka University in Japan, Pierre-Yves Donzé has particularly been the scientific collaborator of the Lausanne and...