Inside the utopian design classes at Monaco’s École Saint Charles

For the last five months, students at the École Saint Charles have been collectively designing and building pieces of ergonomic furniture in a bid to foster creativity and cooperation between pupils.  

Since September, CM1 pupils and their teachers at the École Saint Charles on Avenue Saint Laurent have been immersed in a hands-on design project dubbed Écoletopie. 

The brainchild of Studio Smarin in Nice and put in place in Monaco thanks to a collaboration between the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, the Department of National Education, Youth and Sports, and the Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco, Écoletopie is the natural extension of a 2022 exhibit at the Centre Pompidou in Metz that was entitled The Art of Learning, A School of Creators. 

It calls on schoolchildren to create a ‘total environment’ following four main objectives: the mobilisation of attention, collective intelligence, the exercise of sensitivity and body awareness. The Studio Smarin website describes the project as having a “utopian vision” and as a space that allows children to play and invent. 

Écoletopie in Monaco 

The pupils in Monaco were asked to collectively agree on design projects to undertake then to draw up plans and construct furniture pieces from a range of exclusively natural materials, such as oak panels, cork blocks and wooden dowels.  

CM1 pupils and teachers at the École Saint Charles spent five months working on the Écoletopie project. Photo credit: Manuel Vitali / Monaco Communications Department 

The project covered every stage of the process, from conception to clean-up, and sought to encourage the students to embrace roles of leadership and the art of working cohesively as a team.

The final results produced were diverse – some practical, some decorative – but each demonstrated the application of heart, soul and imagination in creating a thought-provoking piece.  

Alongside encouraging teamwork and creativity, other goals of the Écoletopie project included: enhancing body and mood awareness, developing self-confidence and concentration skills, and teaching students how it feels to have completed “a job well done”.  


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Photo credit: Manuel Vitali / Monaco Communications Department