Current Happenings

SPACE’s 16th Anniversary: A Conversation with Jean-Marie Massaud

In celebration of Space Asia’s 16th anniversary, SPACE invited world-renowned architect and designer, Jean-Marie Massaud, to Singapore to give a design talk as part of its celebratory programme. The Infinite team attended the event a few days ago and it was truly an insightful experience diving into the designer’s mind. The talk delved into his many collaborations and inspirations which developed his ideas, and ultimately how these ideas were brought to life.


But before we explore some of his brilliant designs, here’s a little background about Jean-Marie.


Born in Toulouse in 1966, Jean-Marie Massaud started his career in engineering when he later discovered that design was his calling instead. As a result, he went to study design and eventually graduated from École nationale supérieure de création industrielle (ENSCI), a French design school in Paris, in 1990. He has been working in all kinds of design fields, from furniture to industrial products and even fashion. In 2000, he founded Studio Massaud and expanded his expertise to architecture and brand development. He has also collaborated with various brands such as B&B Italia, Toyota, Dior, Poltrona Frau, Lancôme and Renault and was named Designer of the year in Paris in 2009.


Throughout the talk, Jean-Marie spoke of a very interesting concept in which he integrates into his designs. Instead of focusing on the notion of quantitative growth (“to have”), relating to themes of appearance, status and quantity, he focused on the idea of qualitative growth (“to be”), which relates to quality, meaning and experience. He wanted his designs to capture the body and mind, as well as having a relationship with the natural environment. His quest for the right experience explains why he doesn’t follow trends and instead take on a more symbolic approach in his work.


One of Jean-Marie’s most famous architectural structures is the Chivas Volcano Stadium built in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico. The stadium features a volcano-evoking exterior that captures rainwater and processes it for the use of watering the pitch. It seats 45,000 people and tucks away 8,500 parking spaces under the hillside. What’s truly unique about the building is how it’s able to blend into the surrounding landscape, making it somewhat “hidden” amongst nature.


Another one of his architectural concepts is Hotel Mahn. It is a hotel spa spanning across 7500m2, with 40 rooms and an underground public area. His idea was to create a new way of living centered around sustainability and well-being, and furthermore, associating the entire experience with the element of water.


Moving on to some of his furniture designs, Jean-Marie collaborated with a Swedish design company, called Offecct, and designed the Airberg Sofa. He took inspiration from the cold Swedish landscape and got the idea of combining a comfortable, inviting piece of seating furniture and an iceberg filled with vacuum. Making it contemporary both in its design and technique used.


The new elegance is comfort

Jean-Marie has been working with Poliform to create new concepts – concentrating on timelessness, uniqueness, quality and comfort. Pieces that can be incorporated into the “everyday life”.

Most of Jean-Marie’s designs places a priority on the quality of the experience over the quality of what is bought – the principle being not to own but to experience. In this modern world, where we place such a high emphasis on the aesthetic value of products that sometimes we neglect its functionality and the comfort it’s supposed to bring. Perhaps we should reevaluate how we make our decisions and focus our attention on the more symbolic meaning of products such as sustainability and quality. More specifically, the idea of “to be”.




Congratulations to Space on its 16th anniversary and a huge thank you for hosting this event and providing an opportunity to share insightful design knowledge to everyone who attended.



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