He found the perfect design algorithm: a comfortable elegance. Jean-Marie Massaud is a renowned French architect and designer with an unforgettable signature: a sophisticated ease which is clear in every piece of art he creates. A versatile talent, Massaud has been working on a variety of projects from a chair to a new stadium for Guadalajara, in Mexico, to a car. His portfolio is full of International successful brands like Axor, Cassina, Poliform, Toyota and MDF Italia. A restless thinker and maker his first approach to a project is more focused on the feeling and the experience a product can deliver. This is the reason why his works are a light synthesis among pleasure and environmental responsibility, individual and collective needs, economic requests and industrial efficiency. While he is working on a new chair for the last edition of Salone del Mobile in Milano (April 2016) he took time off to reply to our questions about the Flow chair, his role models and inspirations.
D: How did you come up with the idea of the Flow?
JM: Flow is not a simple chair. It represents the ambition of designing a chair that matches personality and context of each user. I created a system composed by a shell ergonomically mounted on different types of legs (heritage wood, modern aluminum, steel). The seat can be filled with a duvet for a better comfort. The elegance of Flow embodies different personalities based on the environment it is placed in: it can be intimate and warm in a living room, professional and efficient if used in an office. Since its debut in 2009, Flow has been the first chair to provide a domestic ease to a work environment. After its launch we have seen a number of similar products flourishing on the market, copying the style and the approach to that particular comfort.
D: What was your inspiration?
JM: Flow is the synthesis of many chairs that caught my attention. From the more traditional wood to the most iconic and modern ones to those of Eero Saarinen, the famous Finnish-American architect and industrial designer, who was able to deliver a relaxing experience through upholstery chairs.
D: Who are your role models in the design industry? Those who have been crucial in your training?
Within the design industry my role models are Charles and Ray Eames for their intelligence, elegance and style. Achille Castiglioni for his smart and unusual gaze, Philippe Starck for his eclecticism, Antonio Citterio for his accuracy. Many people have been crucial in my training like Leonardo Da Vinci, whose works have had a great impact on my whole idea of creativity and creation when I was a child and Thomas Edison, a unique inventor. More recently, I should say, Steve Jobs for broadening the vision of design as a way of shaping a message and the identity of a whole company.
D: When you have to start a new project, what do you do?
JM: I work all day lying down in search for an inspiration. I try to immerse myself into the quality of the experience that this new project should offer. At the beginning my focus is more about the feeling, the sensation and the intuition of what kind of experience the project should deliver.
D: Are you working on a new project for MDF Italia right now?
JM: On April we will launch a new chair system similar to Flow. It will be more accessible in terms of price through the use of more industrial technologies.
D: What’s design for you?
JM: It is the art of thinking and improving the quality of life by offering goods and services that give us the freedom from our daily routine. It is a progressive discipline that aims to do more with less. On this purpose it is necessary to have a vision that is both global and synthetic. It is important to learn and understand the contexts of the project, identifying the issues, defining ambitions and ways to realize it. Design is a solution provider and not a problem solver.