Portrait of Matali Crasset by Aurelien Mole (courtesy Le Buisson).

Ways of Designing: Matali Crasset.

Exclusive interview with Matali Crasset.

Matali Crasset set up her own studio in Paris, in an old renovated printworks in the beginning of 2000 after her initial experience with Denis Santachiara Italy and with Philippe Starck in France in the ‘90s, Her work consists in looking for new organising principles and in formulating new logics in life and starting from a close observation of the uses she invents another relation to the everyday space and objects. ‘Subversive’ of design, she projects experimental scenarios and objects that anticipate the future.

Is the planning model of Matali Crasset Studio the same everywhere in the world and with all kinds of companies or design products or does the approach change to the different situations?

I think about the specific quality of the answer and the context itself, and I don’t just duplicate an answer according to a «market » or a standard customer. Recently I went to Senegal where I work with an Ong for the carrying out of a hotel in an extraordinary location, a natural marine reserve coveted by some major hotel operators and the project Hatai was chosen right for its quality, its peculiarity and uniqueness. To be small and different is a strength again, because thanks to the Internet and Google, the customer can see the concept in just a few seconds …

Matali Crasset Studio operates on quite different markets and fields (design and architecture, office, residential, educational, hotel, restaurant, retail, exhibit, furniture, light, …). Do the analyses for these projects show the users have now new life styles and new requirements?

I’ve always had the freedom to work for different commissioners, private customers, the city, craftsmen, a well-established company or a start-up. I’ve always worked on a basis of a wider function, for I think that one function is not enough and even multifunctionality is no longer an option. Instead of designing objects that “make sense”, I’d rather reinvent their function. I don’t try to symbolize a function through a form at all costs, and to comply with the codes of different sectors (e.g, a radio, evoking sound, won’t never be designed as a toaster, evoking heat). Since my degree, I’ve designed three objects I called ‘diffusers’, to stress what they give and not what they are. This ‘domestic trilogy’ completed the function of an object through three dimensions: functional, poetic and imaginary. This project made me conscious that the designer’s skill lies in that, it’s a matter of supplying the ingredients that form an object according to an intention. The complex, creative process makes this job fascinating. It requires a great intellectual rigour. In the «decorating objects», the wider function is realized in a living scenario. I’m asked more and more about my strategic considerations and perspectives.

Now I usually consider my projects from a maieutic point of view, it’s not only a matter of give shape to a material – aesthetics – but rather to stress, organize and federate, round shared values and intentions, bonds and networks of competences, connivance, sociality. Most of the projects I’m working on now highlight this teamwork and collaborative dimension. For instance, the recent project of  the Maison des Petits au 104 in Paris, the wooded housed for the Vent des forêts at Fresnes, Mont dans la Meuse, the school Le blé en herbe at Trebedan in Bretagne with  Fondation de France,  Dar’hi à Nefta in Tunisia. So I’m more and more interested in a local dimension. It’s clear now that contemporaneity is no longer the exclusive prerogative of the urban world. Obviously, I also design objects, but they are not the focus neither the purpose of the creative process, just one of the possible implementations (an architecture, a stage design, an exhibition…) at a certain time, of a broader thinking system.

How has the workspace vision changed in the past few years? (from your Red Cell in 2001 to Open Room for Established & Son or Domodinamica chair, from Organic Space at Biennale Beijing 2004 and BHV space to Cooper Hewitt Museum, from Balouga children desk to Elmes Open Platform to Concrete LCDA bookcase…) and have these changes an impact on the new interior design and furniture products?

Apart from the working space, I find that the most interesting question is about the scenario inside this space and the relation with our private life, upset by the new technologies

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