The feral houses of matali crasset

The feral houses of matali crasset

Matali Crasset
Lorraine, France
Project Year
© Lucas Frechin

Le Nichoir

Matali Crasset as Architects

Les Maisons Sylvestres by Vent des Forêts A public commission produced by the french designer matali crasset

At the heart of the department of Meuse (55), in Lorraine, in 5000 hectares of forests belonging to the villages of Dompcevrin, Fresnes-au-Mont, Lahaymaix, Nicey-sur-Aire, Pierrefitte-sur-Aire and Ville-devant-Belrain.

With the benefit of 17 years’ experience of creating artworks along 45 km of footpaths, Vent des Forêts has initiated a project for adventurers, lovers of art and of nature. The four 'Maisons Sylvestres' offer a port of call, an art of living, to hikers and walkers in search of the fundamentals. Conducted under the management of Vent des Forêts, this project has been sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the National Fund for territorial planning and development, the Meuse Departmental Council, the Lorraine Regional Council, the Association of Municipalities Entre Aire et Meuse, the European Union, in the form of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), and by the RTE Foundation.

The two first 'Maisons Sylvestres' called “the Nestbox” and “the Hazelnut” are open to the public since May 2013.

An experimental project calls for an experimental method: the proposal developed by matali crasset, together with local residents and the volunteers of Vent des Forêts, involved taking the forest as a living material to inspire the imagination. To achieve this, it was necessary to “confront the forest with humility, to listen to it, to observe it”, explains the designer.

Each of the modules responds to the desire for a simple and exceptional experience within a minimalist, perfectly adapted, space: a sort of refuge, whilst at the same time encouraging the curious rambler to explore the surrounding woodland. These 'Maisons Sylvestres', combinations of acacia wood, Douglas fir and steel, blend into the landscape and the protective shade under the trees, to reveal themselves little by little. “They are light-weight structures,” explains Matali. “Set in the forest, they can be put in position without damaging the environment or disturbing the ecosystem.” They have been conceived with a stated desire to work towards sustainable development. These four 'Maisons Sylvestres' are proposed as backdrops to living. Each one suggests a use, a kind of rapport with nature, a story to act out. Easy to grasp, the principle is available to all, and each person completes it in his own way. An open system where the imaginary is at the heart of the creative process and which allows the public to soak up the spirit of the setting, to snuggle up in it and to commune with nature, always just a little mysterious, with its scents, sounds and breaths.

The 'Maisons Sylvestres' will offer, depending on their layout, enriched living spaces such as a patio or fireplace, so that everyone can be, for a night or an afternoon, Robinson Crusoe in Vent des Forêts. Observant visitors, fleeting occupants, curled up in one of these 20-square-meter shells or hiding behind a screen of acacia, will be able to watch a jay or a deer, and pick nearby sweet woodruff, lily-of-the-valley and marjoram.

A creation by the designer matali crasset matali crasset, born in 1965, was trained as an industrial designer, and is a graduate of the Ateliers E.N.S.C.I. (National Higher School of Industrial Design). Having spent the early part of her career working with Denis Santachiara in Italy and Philippe Starck in France, she opened her own studio in Paris in a renovated former printworks in the heart of Belleville. It is here, surrounded by children and neighbours, that she creates her projects.

Since the 1990’s, she has envisaged her profession of designer in a holistic way. Turning her expert and ever-fresh gaze on the world, she questions the apparent rules, the better to free herself from them. As in the case of her emblematic creation, the columnar bedroll “Quand Jim monte à Paris” – “When Jim goes up to Paris” – it is from astute observation of convention that she invents a new way of relating to space and everyday objects. Thus her proposals are never a straightforward improvement on the pre-existing, but rather develop, delicately, typologies structured around principles such as modularity, networks… Her work involves searching for new defining principles and formulating new rationales for living. She defines this research as an accompaniment to the contemporary.

Matali crasset collaborates with a variety of involved parties: with the inquisitive artisan as with the private individual in search of a new living environment; with the industrialist willing to experiment as with the hotelier wishing to develop a new concept (the HI Hotel in Nice); with the country village seeking to enhance the value of its cultural and social energy as with the museum looking to transform itself (SM’s at's-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands). Always on the lookout for new territory to explore, she collaborates with eclectic worlds, from crafts to electronic music, from the textile industry to Fair Trade commerce, producing projects in the fields of theatrical design, furniture, architecture, graphics, collaborations with other artists…

Project Credits
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