It was founded by a Harvard professor of bio-medical technology named David Edwards who moonlights writing fiction.
He started talking to his colleagues across disciplines and found they shared a similar story - the scientists had a hidden interest in art and the artists had a hidden interest in science. He was struck by their covert passions and wondered what would happen if he brought the seemingly opposite disciplines together in a public space.
Le Laboratoire was born, and it was driven by a central question: What lies behind innovative intelligence?
He wrote two books related to the founding of the lab. One is called Artscience: Creativity in the Post-Google Generation. I haven't read it. In the meantime I recommend giving the story a listen.
Le Laboratoire has since closed the exhibit featured in the story but it looks like they have ambitious plans for the future.
They segment their types of innovation into four kinds:
CULTURAL Through collaboration with a scientist, an artist creates a new form of ?????
INDUSTRIAL Through collaboration with a designer, a scientist invents a new scientific process.
HUMANITARIAN Artists and scientists engage in dialogues to bring solutions to humanitarian problems.
EDUCATIONAL Artists and scientists create with or alongside a student in the arts or sciences to produce passionate experiential learning.
Sometimes I feel like the common themes of left brain vs. right brain; art vs. science; rational vs. emotional have become the tired dualities of pre-concept conversation. We talk about how such-and-such concept hits on a balance of emotional and rational. We debate the role of each extreme, often for the purpose of explaining why a concept, an approach, an execution, works.
I like what Le Laboratoire is doing because they use art and science as creative inputs. They crash them head-on and exhibit the result. It just seems like a good approach for true creative alchemy.