Appointment with: French designer Patrick Jouin
Where: 58 Tour Eiffel (Alain Ducasse restaurant on 1st floor of Eiffel Tower)
Date: June 9th, 2009
On the agenda: Learn about Patrick Jouin’s 10-yr retrospective in São Paolo as part of the Year of France in Brazil
I have been living in Paris for ten years and until last month I had never climbed the Eiffel Tower. Somehow I just never got around to it. I wasn’t deliberately avoiding it but the thought of waiting in line for hours to squish inside an elevator full of scarily-clad tourists (e.g. the kind who wear “I love Paris” varsity sweatshirts with mint green leggings, Birkenstocks & socks and backpacks worn over chests), and shell out the price of an excellent bottle of wine just to do so, never appealed.
Call me blasé, but I needed more incentive…
The calling came in the mail in the form of a 3-D rendering of Paris viewed from the sky. Even without the words “Le Paris de Patrick Jouin” splayed across its center, it had the prolific designer’s named all over it. The raised-type medallion was an invitation to preview Jouin’s first monographic show, a traveling exhibition that kicks off in São Palo this July at the Instituto Tomie Ohtake as part of the Year of France in Brazil (Brazil is returning the favor after being featured in France in 2005).
The show features approximately 150 Jouin objects and offers a peek at future projects, like the 100m2 experimental “Extreme Wow Suite” that his Paris-based agency, Jouin Manku, is working on for the luxury hotel chain, W.
I first interviewed Jouin in 2003, only five years after he started his own agency. He was just starting to generate buzz for his groundbreaking interior architecture for Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse’s restaurants (Plaza Athenée in Paris, The Dorcester in London, Mix in Las Vegas).
But it was his revolutionary Solid series, a collection of chairs created using 3-D rapid prototyping, or stereolithography, a technology that allows you to build objects out of drawings, that cemented his reputation as one of the most innovative and industrious designers of his generation.
“We did the count. You run across a Jouin design in Paris every 350 meters. From publicity signs to bike stands, he’s contributed over 46,000 designs to the urban landscape,” says Valérie Guillaume,* curator of design at the Pompidou Centre in Paris and organizer of the retrospective exhibition.
In the ten action-packed years since opening his own design firm in 1999, Jouin has proven himself to be a master of many mediums. He’s also demonstrated that no project is too pedestrian for his burgeoning britches. When he’s not adding to his compendium of masterpiece interiors for Ducasse (including the 58 Tour Eiffel) he can be found designing municipal toilets for the city of Paris, for example.
So if you can’t make it to a Ducasse restaurant anytime soon, the best way to “experience” a Jouin design is by going to the loo on your next trip to Paris.
Q&A with Patrick Jouin
How does it feel having a 10-yr retrospective at such a young age?
I don’t know what to say. Even though I always feel that I’ve done nothing and that time rushes by too quickly, when you look back you can’t help noticing that much has been accomplished. Despite that, I always have the impression that we could have done more or better, and that we’re not organized enough.
Do you look back and wish you had done certain designs differently?
Yes and no. It’s better to move forward even if you make mistakes along the way. My ego gets hurt less these days when I see the errors that I’ve made because it’s all part of the process. The important thing is to apply those lessons to future projects. I don’t live thinking that I should redo something that I messed up in the past, I should have just been better the moment that I did it, that’s all.
Tell us more about the W hotel suite project?
In addition to showing the past projects, we’re going to give a hint of things to come to show how a designer works. So we’re presenting this room. For its design we thought about the future of accommodation and new ways of living in a hotel room 5-10 years from now. There are new ways in which the space is organized from an architectural perspective, as well as new services linked to technology and new services that have been entirely invented.
Which four designs stand out most for you as key moments in your career?
1. The Velib bike stands for their rapport with the public.
2. The Solid series for its use of stereolithography.
3. The YTL Residence in Kuala Lumpur for its relationship between space and design.
4. The NightCove alarm clock for its use of electronics.
Exhibition details: “Le Paris de Patrick Jouin,” on view at the Instituto Tomie Ohtake in São Paulo, Brazil, from July 29 – September 27, 2009.
Scoop: Valérie Guillaume, curator of design at the Pompidou Center in Paris is working on another Patrick Jouin exhibition for early 2010 at the museum. The show will take a behind-the-scenes look into Jouin’s creative process, and will include private visits to his Paris studio.