In anticipation of her Trade Talk at the Interior Design Show in Toronto next week, the French designer discussed collaboration, colour, inspiration, and her latest project, Le Blobterre de Matali (now on view at the Centre Pompidou in Paris) with Azure contributor Christina Bagatavicius.
Christina Bagatavicius: Le Blobterre de Matali looks like some sort of magical forest. Where did the vision for it come from?
Matali Crasset: I wanted to invent a new ecosystem, so I began by envisioning a fictional territory. I think of it as an imaginary garden. It’s about experiencing primitive life in a very contemporary way. That’s kind of a metaphor for how I think about design. I made Blobterre specially for the museum, and I wanted to break away from the usual museum practice of showing lots of dead objects. I was more interested in using the space as a field for experimentation, and to create a multi-sensory experience filled with all sorts of sights, sounds and smells.
CB: How did you arrive at the title?
MC: It’s made up. We created a whole language for the project, including a glossary for the vegetation. We invented characters, too. Fl’om is half-flower, half-man; and estratoofs are multisensory dome structures made of different types of vegetation. In the world of Blobterre, it’s always spring, a season symbolic of energy, growth and optimism.
CB: Is the exhibit interactive?
MC: Yes, visitors become explorers as they move through the environment and make connections between abstraction and reality.
CB: You’ve designed more practical things, like couches, lights, jewellery, even a spatula for Alessi. What’s your favourite aspect of the design process?
MC: I find I’m taking on the role of creative midwife. It’s becoming less about aesthetics or form and more about enabling collaborations to happen. I’m interested in how common intentions and values emerge and take shape, and then how they unite into a network of partnerships. Trust is important, too, and the right partners make a project stronger. This is especially true with a project I’ve been working on with Cédric Casanova, who runs a small shop and café in Paris, La Têtedans Les Olives, which sells olive oils. I designed a series of carafes and oil-tasting glasses for him. That’s been a very close collaboration.
CB: Is a multidisciplinary practice important to you?
MC: I don’t try to work that way, but people seem to feel comfortable asking me to do things I’ve never done before. For Blobterre, I had never created a real world, but I used the same design process as I do with anything I work on. Basically, I just let my imagination run wild.
CB: You also let colours run wild. All of your projects are loaded with bright colours.
MC: Colour is life. Why limit yourself?
This article originally appeared in Azure‘s January/February 2012, on newsstands now.