UNSCRIPTED with Matali Crasset: The ‘Arco Iris’ Emancipation

French industrial and product designer, Matali Crasset, equates her disdain for monochrome with her greed for living on this week’s vibrant UNSCRIPTED episode.

by Anmol AhujaPublished on : Jul 30, 2021

“Colour really links to life. Colour is life, and life is colour.”

- Matali Crasset

Making the courageous move from a small town to the city of lights and dreams like a plethora of young aspirants, Matali Crasset found her emancipation and the inspiration to pursue a creative discipline in the leap. Even though the Paris-based designer enjoyed a “marvellous” childhood by the countryside, brought up in a family of farmers in the small village of Normée in France, young Crasset, however, was destined to be a creator, finding her natural surroundings to be her muse and her playground. One half of a pair of identical twins, Crasset termed her sister, Véronique, to be the reason she never felt lonely. While her success story is clearly reflected in her numerous eclectic projects, densely concentrated on the French side, the beginning of her design journey might as well be traced back to her decision to move to the French capital. “I became a designer because I was able to live in Paris,” states Crasset, smitten at the time by the city’s energy and the ability to push away boundaries that the city imparted her, among other interesting and unknown facts about the French designer’s life in the public eye.

  • Having grown up in a small village, young Matali saw nature as her playground | UNSCRIPTED with Matali Crasset | Interviews | STIRworld
    Having grown up in a small village, young Matali saw nature as her playground Image: Courtesy of Matali Crasset
  • Matali along with her husband, Francis Pichot, 1986 | UNSCRIPTED with Matali Crasset | Interviews | STIRworld
    Matali along with her husband, Francis Pichot, 1986 Image: Toshio Shimamura
  • The French designer describes moving to Paris for higher education as the beginning of her journey to emancipation | UNSCRIPTED with Matali Crasset | Interviews | STIRworld
    The French designer describes moving to Paris for higher education as the beginning of her journey to emancipation Image: Julien Jouanjus

Trained formally in the discipline of industrial design at the ENSCI (Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle), Crasset honed her craft and developed a rather nascent creative skill to birth a style, attributing this emancipation to the creative freedom the institute allowed her. The beginning of her Parisian dream, Crasset, following a brief stint in the global design capital, Milan, worked under the apprenticeship of the legendary Philippe Starck soon after, before starting her own practice. Crasset’s key take away, an important building block in her journey to this “emancipation”: liberty.

  • La librairie des presses du Réel, Consortium Museum, Dijon | UNSCRIPTED with Matali Crasset | Interviews | STIRworld
    La librairie des presses du Réel, Consortium Museum, Dijon Image: Philippe Piron
  • Le rainbow et le bosquet | UNSCRIPTED with Matali Crasset | Interviews | STIRworld
    Le rainbow et le bosquet Image: Philippe Piron
  • Stries & compagnies, place de la nation, Paris | UNSCRIPTED with Matali Crasset | Interviews | STIRworld
    Stries & compagnies, place de la nation, Paris Image: Philippe Piron
  • L'archipel tonique, ENS Paris Saclay | UNSCRIPTED with Matali Crasset | Interviews | STIRworld
    L'archipel tonique, ENS Paris Saclay Image: Philippe Piron

Shunning trends in the design industry, finding a more stimulating inspiration from artists as opposed to people from her own profession, Crasset’s portfolio encompasses realms, isms, scope, and scale. Her most famous works, including L'archipel tonique, ENS Paris Saclay, La librairie des presses du Réel, Consortium Museum, Dijon, Trait d'union eyewear for Théo, Tissage Moutet, and the IKEA PS 2017 light, vividly spell out the spectrum of her distinct design language. Transcending from interior design into installation, and from product design into near sculptural crafting, it is easy to infer that Crasset harbours a deep love for the Arco Iris she donned during her UNSCRIPTED conversation with STIR. The colours across the spectrum literally come alive in her projects, filling the space they occupy with unmistakable quirk and a vivacious character. For her, it is difficult to imagine a life in monochrome, and those who do must be afraid of living.

  • Self-Made Seat, Campeggi | UNSCRIPTED with Matali Crasset | Interviews | STIRworld
    Self-Made Seat, Campeggi Image: Courtesy of Campeggi
  • La Lampe, Maison Berger Paris | UNSCRIPTED with Matali Crasset | Interviews | STIRworld
    La Lampe, Maison Berger Paris Image: Raphael Lugassy, courtesy of Maison Berger Paris
  • PS 2017 Light, IKEA | UNSCRIPTED with Matali Crasset | Interviews | STIRworld
    PS 2017 Light, IKEA Image: Courtesy of IKEA

Crasset’s quirk in design is complemented by her very distinct cosmetic choices: her hair and eyewear. However, akin to her projects, there is a method to the varicoloured madness here, adding that unique, oft-overlooked layer of utility to the proceedings. Her glasses help her truly “look” at mundane instances in “sceneries of nature” to find inspiration that she is then quick to sketch, even if in abstraction. Her haircut helps her head “breathe” and “think”, yet another instance of her “freedom”, or the desire for it. Crasset currently resides in Paris with her husband, Francis Fichot, and their two children, having created her own spaces of calm in her residence while locked-down owing to the pandemic, operating her eponymous studio, Matali Crasset Productions, from there. Courtesy of Fichot, who happens to be an excellent cook, Crasset’s meals happen to be just as colourful as her products.

  • Crasset’s playful idiosyncrasy also spills over in her choice of hairdo, eyewear, and apparel | UNSCRIPTED with Matali Crasset | Interviews | STIRworld
    Crasset’s playful idiosyncrasy also spills over in her choice of hairdo, eyewear, and apparel Image: Julien Jouanjus
  • Crasset claims that her haircut lets her head “breathe”, and that she prefers shopping books over garments | UNSCRIPTED with Matali Crasset | Interviews | STIRworld
    Crasset claims that her haircut lets her head “breathe”, and that she prefers shopping books over garments Image: Julien Jouanjus

Now emancipated, but with firmly established roots in the design fraternity and discipline, a successful stance by all means, Crasset prefers her definitive identity to be a bit more personal. “I am a woman, and a mother,” she adds.

  • Matali Crasset working in her studio in Paris. The designer proclaimed that we had given too much to technology | UNSCRIPTED with Matali Crasset | Interviews | STIRworld
    Matali Crasset working in her studio in Paris. The designer proclaimed that we had given too much to technology Image: Julien Jouanjus
  • Crasset prefers sketching her designs in the abstract and composite, as opposed to precision or definitiveness | UNSCRIPTED with Matali Crasset | Interviews | STIRworld
    Crasset prefers sketching her designs in the abstract and composite, as opposed to precision or definitiveness Image: Julien Jouanjus
  • Crasset’s children, Popline and Arto, with her creation Permis de construire, Domeau & Pérès | UNSCRIPTED with Matali Crasset | Interviews | STIRworld
    Crasset’s children, Popline and Arto, with her creation Permis de construire, Domeau & Pérès Image: Tania & Vincent, © Matali Crasset

Discover more about Matali Crasset’s inspiring life and her design journey from her full UNSCRIPTED conversation by clicking on the cover video.

UNSCRIPTED:
Curated by Pramiti Madhavji (Consultant, Content Adviser, STIR), UNSCRIPTED is a STIR-original series of quick-witted video interviews with leading design professionals who give us an undiscovered peek into their lives. A melting pot of quests, revelations and quirks, the series releases a new episode every Sunday as designers reveal unheard and unknown nuggets from their lives, in response to 30 questions.  

All photographs © Matali Crasset Productions. Images may not be downloaded, copied, reproduced, or used in part or whole without obtaining permission. The photographs in this video are not licensed for personal, commercial, or public use, or use in the public domain in any form.

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