In Conversation | Jean-Marie Massaud

April 18, 2024
Join Poliform Australia and Est Living's Megan Rawson for an exclusive conversation with leading French architect and designer Jean-Marie Massaud, where she discusses his multi-disciplinary approach and what he sees for the future of furniture design.

            In Conversation | Jean-Marie Massaud

Recognised as a prominent figure in contemporary design, Jean-Marie Massaud is renowned for his innovative approach and timeless aesthetic across architecture, interior design, industrial design, and furniture design.

Jean-Marie’s work is distinguished by his sleek and minimalist aesthetic, often combining form and function in trailblazing ways and paying close attention to the delicate balance between people and their environment.

In particular, Jean-Marie has made significant contributions to the world of furniture design and has crafted iconic pieces that blend elegance with functionality for Poliform Australia. His designs, including the Mondrian table, Jacqueline bed, and Saint-Germain sofa, all feature his signature clean lines, organic shapes, and high-quality materials.

As a trained architect known for your multi-disciplinary approach, what core principles or philosophies guide your approach to design across different disciplines?

Jean-Marie: From designing architecture to flying hotels and innovative new cars to crafting living spaces, I have always imagined things to be like a film. My mind conjures situations, progressive scenarios, moods, and even shared human emotions more than it does shapes or objects. 

When I’m designing a new product, I start by giving it a narrative and its own unique genesis. I opt for an integrated contextual approach guided by a singular vision – rather than drawing on a stylistic recipe. In furniture design, I always focus on delivering expertise, elegance, and an enduring timelessness to suit a modern way of living.

How do you find a balance between form and function in each of your furniture designs?

Jean-Marie: For me, the form is the substance that rises to the surface first and foremost. This requirement has always been my primary motivation when designing, and I firmly believe that an honest product should be both practical and durable. The expression of each piece follows organically during this process.  

How do you stay creatively inspired and maintain a fresh perspective in your work? And, are there specific cultural or historical influences that resonate in your designs?

Jean-Marie: I find inspiration everywhere, from the micro to the meta. Everyday life is a constant source of inspiration to me, from the people I meet to the connections and conversations we have. Travelling and experiencing different cultural aspects and local artwork also motivates my work. Like most, there is no one thing that my creativity stems from. Instead, my process is influenced by a number of elements that all go through a ‘decantation process’.

When it comes to crafting furniture, I have always been encouraged by the designs of Poul Kjaerholm, Eames, and Pierre Paulin – to name just a few.

"It’s these shared ideals with Poliform that have allowed me to create refined, sophisticated, and yet comfortable living environments that surpass any momentary trend, and instead suggest a way of life. Poliform is synonymous with luxury, elegance, and functionality."

– Jean-Marie Massaud

At est living, we’ve featured your products and have enjoyed following your creative journey. Can you talk about your relationship with Poliform and how your creative vision aligns with Poliform’s design philosophy?

Jean-Marie: Italians are so well known for their passion for the good things in life, and the Italian culture is a wonderful foundation for building beauty. As an Italian brand, Poliform is synonymous with luxury, elegance, and functionality. One of its core strengths has always been their focus on craftsmanship and attention to detail, and the Poliform brand is well regarded for collaborating with like-minded designers and architects, like myself, who borrow from their range of disciplines to deliver high-quality pieces for the home.

It’s these shared ideals with Poliform that have allowed me to create refined, sophisticated, and yet comfortable living environments that surpass any momentary trend and instead suggest a way of living. The quality and high standards of our pieces offer timeless furniture items that can be mixed and matched together and only get better with age and time.

Do you have a favourite design for Poliform that holds a special place in your heart? If so, what makes it so memorable?

Jean-Marie: It’s almost impossible to name just one. However, there have been a few standout pieces that, to me, illustrate the different angles of my work with Poliform.

The Brera sofa system represents elegance through clean lines through a modern lens, while the Seattle chair collection designed in 2015 represents perfect architectural proportions and a unique yet elegant design language. British shoemaking traditions inspired the exposed stitching of this chair. 

The Wallace chaise lounge showcases a concept where exploration meets creative new possibilities and aims to reinvent the genre of ‘typical living room furniture’. I love the organic sculptural silhouette of this piece.

From 1990 to today, how do you see the future of furniture design evolving, and how is Poliform positioning itself in this changing landscape?

Jean-Marie: These days, many people lead a “ready-to-consume lifestyle” whereby the intrinsic quality of each product is sometimes forgotten.

Alongside Poliform, we are developing a furniture economy based on quality and timelessness. We are crafting elevated products imbued with a bespoke character and distinct functionality, all contributing to creating a welcoming, warm, and sophisticated home environment. This idea fosters the possibility of an inspired and refined blend. It’s this meeting of elements that embody the spirit of Poliform.

Lastly, what is most important to you as a designer today?

Jean-Marie: Lightness, reduction, competence. An alchemia that is not always visible at first glance but is pivotal to an enduring piece. I design beautiful things that people can use and love for a long, long time.

The article was first published on Est Living.

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