Graduating from the ENSCI in 1990, Jean-Marie Massaud has run a quest for synthesis, reduction and lightness since his first intuitions. He has worked in various fields within design, from furniture to industrial product and equipment. In 2000, he founded Studio Massaud and expanded his expertise to include architecture and brand development. He has collaborated with various brands such as B&B Italia, Axor Hansgrohe, Dior, Poltrona Frau, Lancôme and Renault. Oblivious to trends and fashion, Jean Marie prefers questioning the existing and proposing answers to contemporary problems. It is this symbiosis between Man, his creations and his natural environment, that Jean Marie Massaud strives to reach, as a catalyst to innovation, as an economic model and as a life project.
INTERVIEW WITH JEAN-MARIE MASSAUD AT SALONE DEL MOBILE IN MILAN 2016
1. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Everything is inspiring: everyday life, people, trips, art... Like everybody, I am influenced by a large number of inputs that go through a decantation process in my sub conscience. We all have rich collective and personal subconscious. My intuitions give a hierarchy to this magma through creative synthesis and in the frame of precise and relevant contexts.
I find inspiration in everything and in most of my exchanges with other people. I love discussion, creativity, energy and deep thinking.
Nature is also a source of inspiration, not necessarily in itself, but in its principle. Nature always proposes a great synthesis, it is always essential and to the point. I’ve always been fascinated by the simplicity of nature in spite of its complex systems behind this simplicity.
My source of inspiration always leads by the intent to live and to share really cool situations. The best experiences in each culture around the world merge in a non-folk language.
I like the refinement of well thought objects, more than show off (demonstrative) shape.
I like the never limited quest of competence, that's my meaning of quality.
I like design to small but important attentions that helps to increase the comfort of the time we are spending at home.
I like "sociable" objects or furniture when combining with other pieces are able to give a feeling of harmony.
2. Tell us about your releases for Poliform this year and your relationship with the design house.
My relationship with Poliform is a work based on time, with complicity, esteem and serenity. Such conditions allows us to develop typologies of products in line with the true nature of Poliform (competence, elegance and timelessness) and also with constantly evolving social and cultural practices. We are working as much on the visible, the feeling as on the invisible, that is to say as much on the technical development of products, the quality of comfort and the architecture as on proposals of life experience universes.
We present this year:
- the expected “industrialised” version of the SYDNEY: more a comfortable landscape, a new way to live our day area, than just a sofa. A real “reef of life”.
- Mondrian, an architectural vision of “classic” sofa-systems, treated with lightness and refinement. A system allowing on request to create multiples articulations of sub-elements whether made of wood, leather or fabrics which are unique and elegant. Mondrian is to sofa what Californian architecture of the 1950s-1970s is to house.
- Stanford, a small chic armchair, contoured, compact but distinguished and comfortable, still in line with the quest of lightness and refinement. This armchair is adapted and gives value to all situations from the living to the hotel room.
3. What’s the best interior in your city?
I am living in Saint Paul de Vence where the best interior (and exterior) is the one of “La Colombe d’Or”, which is an incredible old crazy hotel and restaurant which welcomed artists in residence who often donate an artwork in exchande. Today, it is an outstanding place of more than 70 years of lived history with artists that you can feel thanks to: a mobile of Cadler, sculptures and paintings of Picasso, Armand, Miro, Matisse, Fernand Léger, Kandinsky or Nouvel (the Architect). It’s offering a unique singular landscape.
4. What is your favourite item that you didn’t design?
So many in various fields but to name a few:
Within the Design industry my role models are Charles and Ray Eames for their intelligence, elegance and style: the iconic lounge chair of 1956, the chairs collection of the aluminum group, the plastic armchair, … and La Chaise of 1948.
5. Describe the journey you take when designing a piece of furniture.
I like to work laying and dreaming: riding a bike, doing paddle surf, then taking a rest and so intuitions come. I immerse my mind into the life experience, the quality, the comfort, the mood of this experience that I want to live and to share. It allows me to imagine the furniture and objects that will contribute to this experience. I sketches all and go back to my outdoor activities.
My tools: a booknote and a pencil for drawing spontaneous rough sketch.
In fact, I am working on a lot of projects in different fields almost simultaneously. All my thoughts feed each thought. Taking some distance thanks to physical activities allows me to sediment out each subject and to reach a clear synthesis. Then, it is a work of development that I lead with my team in order to refine all details of architecture, proportions, technical data, finishings, refinement
However, sometimes, the main idea can come after 15mn conversation with smart people about non-sense of situations: then comes immediately a clear vision of context stakes. I pull out a sheet of paper and draw the synthesis very fast.
6. Last year you released the Sydney sofa –Will be visiting Australia soon?
I really hope so, and because I only work on vacation, I should be there very productive ;)