Paris Design Week is largely about brand in-store and similar PR driven presentations. An extension if you will of Maison et Objet into the city, and thus predictably prosaic.
Throughout the city there are/were stimulating and challenging presentations to be found and interesting designers and manufacturers to be discovered and enjoyed.
Among the new discoveries we made at Paris Design Week 2017 was Paris based studio woodmade.
Back in 2016 we got quite excited, or perhaps better put, dangerously over excited, by a rocking chair Jasper Morrison retrieved from the Museum für Gestaltung Zurich’s archive as part of the MyCollection section of his Thingness exhibition.
Created in the 1920s by the Swiss architect Jacob Müller, the rocking chair came very close to outshining and upstaging Morrison’s own work; raising it to a lost furniture design classic we extolled its low-down siting position, its informality, its simplicity, clarity and that it is a “wooden rocking chair from the 1920s. Which belongs in the 2020s.”
Mali à bascule by Paris based architect and cabinet maker Eloi Schultz a.k.a. woodmade is an equally satisfying piece of work.
At least visually.
Eloi sadly wasn’t there when we were and so we had no opportunity to try it, cannot therefore comment on the sitting comfort, far less on the smoothness of the rocking action: our gut reaction however sees little reason to doubt that both will be fine. And if there are any deficiencies, we’re certain they can be ironed out.
As with Jacob Müller’s rocker what primarily appeals to us is the low to the ground sitting position, the structural simplicity and the inherent honesty of the piece. While the juxtaposition of the wide seat and the narrow backrest brings a tension to the work and helps create a visually charming, accessible and very inviting object. Arguably for indoor or out.
In addition to Mali à bascule Eloi has a non-rocking version, Mali à pied, which also features the same low-down sitting position, wide seat, simplicity and inherent honesty; if for us the legs rather than rockers do create a slightly bulkier, less balanced, work.
We’re admittedly unsure why “Mali”, presumably either because it is based on some traditional Malian chair with which Eloi is acquainted. Or another reason we cannot begin to guess.
Beyond the Malian chairs we were very taken with, well pretty much everything on the woodmade stand at the now! le OFF! exhibition in the Les Docks – Cité de la Mode et du Design; as a collection it spoke to us of construction not design, of objects realised, yes, with very specific functional goals but where the development process was lead by finding logical, efficient, material led, construction systems, and with little or no regard for the final form.
In particular we were very taken by the Mirador and Superleger bar stools which present two alternative, yet equally charming, interpretations of the genre: the one, and very much in the spirit of the Constructivists, disregarding its apparent fragility through a commanding brutality, the other much more pastoral, if ever bit as open, fragile, honest and communicative, while the la Cathédrale glass vitrine presents a transparency, clarity and structural reduction that the Catholic church has long since lost. If it ever possessed.
Then there is the floor lamp.
Officially known as the Lampe Héron – Heron Lamp – we’re calling it the Provenance Floor Lamp, for surely it perfectly encapsulates the idea of the articulated floor lamp. Surely!
Base ✔ Stem ✔ Joints ✔ Light head ✔
Just the actual floor lamp is missing. All you have is the essence. The reduction of a tangible object to its theoretical basis. So much so it took us ages to even notice it.
We have admittedly spent a lot time since Paris Design Week wondering if it isn’t, perhaps, too obvious, too direct, if we weren’t perhaps blinded by something superficial.
As an object it has the necessary strength of character, the self-confidence, tension, conceptual foundation and is a genuinely engaging object, physically, spiritually, ideologically and politically.
Full details on woodmade can be found at www.woodmade.me
A few impressions, whereby, the law of averages being as they are, the woodmade stand at now! le Off! was in front of the very window through which the Parisian September sun was happily blazing the morning we were there, apologies….