With the «Saisi» mug duo, Jean Nouvel made his footprint on the coffee scene by designing a pure, practical and ergonomic object dedicated to takeaway drinks.In the 80s, when his career was in full swing, he took his first steps in design, as he could not find any «furniture adequate for his buildings». Thus, he envisioned the beautiful roundness of the Saint James chair to decorate a high-end restaurant in the Bordeaux region, and the great simplicity of the Vienna bench to harmoniously fit into his design of the Sofitel in the Austrian capital.
His bright opportunism paid off, as these two creations were consequently produced by Ligne Roset and Wittman and, only fifteen years later, in 1995, the architect founded Jean Nouvel Design (JND) to accompany his architecture firm Ateliers Jean Nouvel (AJN). Since its creation, JND has designed and produced around a hundred furniture and lighting creations, either to fit in with architectural projects or as completely stand- alone pieces. Still today, its founder rejects the idea of being called a designer, preferring to define himself as an «architect who designs»:
« I have always considered furniture and objects to be mini architecture projects...pocket architecture...
For both big and small architecture projects, the conceptual obsession stays the same.» For Jean Nouvel, in both cases, the starting point, or rather the core concept is the context:
" I base my work on the situation, which contextualises the project."
I like buildings to arrive somewhere and know why they are there. I think that for furniture it is the same: they should arrive naturally and should always appear to fit right in, to be to scale, in the right dimensions, to look as though they have been made to be where they are.» 1000 raisons, his modular library created for Bespoke Edition perfectly encapsulates this idea, as the size and shape can be adapted to perfectly cater for specific needs and environments. As it centres around common sense, Jean Nouvel furniture, just like its founding architect, is always straight talking: it frees itself from stylistic shapes to express competent pertinence to «travel through eras without becoming obsolete and fitting into all kinds of interiors». Its table au kilomètre created for the Gagosian gallery with singular precision or its deceptively ordinary Simplissimo range at Ligne Roset follow the principle of «zero design», with a clear message: «objects must be calm» explains the architect who is a fan of the purity of Scandinavian design, but also of Mies Van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Jean Prouvé furniture.
Tranquillity may be the concept, but it is also what allows a discussion to be launched. In the exhibition dedicated to the architect’s furniture in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, it is this elementarity that allows the iconic objects by Jean Nouvel to be so completely in tune with the historical rooms of the museum. From this premeditated concurrence, poetry emerges.