Interiors of the MEV cabin by Studio Jean Verville finds a Memphis style reawakening

The black exterior of the MEV Cabin nestled deep in a Canadian forest is contrasted by its kaleidoscopic interiors which pays homage to the colourful ethos of Memphis.

by STIRworldPublished on : Nov 12, 2022

The groundbreaking Memphis style of design has influenced the creative and cultural industry, from graphic design, products, fashion, lighting, art, interior design, architecture, animation, and music. Fresh, colourful, bold, geometric and humorous, it has been a lasting stylistic hallmark that finds relevance and inspires design even today. Radical and provocative at the time of its genesis in Italy in the 80s, the postmodernist movement brimming with references to pop art and art deco has seen a visible reawakening in the last two decades or so, with its flat hues, contrasting colour palettes, stripes and abstract squiggles and shapes finding meaning within mirrors, album covers, bags, tiles, furniture, tapestries, flagship stores, and so much more.    

Aerial view of the MEV Cabin in Canada | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
Aerial view of the MEV Cabin in Canada Image: Maxime Brouillet

The Memphis Group founded by legendary Italian designer Ettore Sottsass never thought that the objects they were creating carried a timeless, iconic quality, or would maintain the mainstream influence that it clearly has. They were simply intended as a protest—as a stand against the status quo, as statement pieces screaming loud and foul in the face of the strict, function-driven, neutral Modernist style, guided firstly by form and emotion, rather than just function.

The one-storey MEV Cabin has a simple layout | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
The one-storey MEV Cabin has a simple layout Image: Maxime Brouillet
The MEV Cabin sits nestled in a Laurentian Forest in Canada | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
The MEV Cabin sits nestled in a Laurentian Forest in Canada Image: Maxime Brouillet

The playfully kaleidoscopic interiors of this one-storey cabin in Montreal draw from the Memphis style, almost concealed, nestled among the Laurentian Forest in Canada, carrying its soul in employed colours and the energy of spaces. Studio Jean Verville architectes, was asked to conceive the MEV cabin by two “admirable eccentrics” passionate about art and Italian design of the ’80s, “seduced by the photographic narration illustrating the projects” of the architectural firm.

The playful, kaleidoscopic interiors contrast with the dusky wooden exterior | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
The playful, kaleidoscopic interiors contrast with the dusky wooden exterior Image: Maxime Brouillet

The design brief for their refuge in the forest outlined a space that would host their daily lives with a “whimsical energy, a challenge in absolute cohesion with the disruptive approach of the studio,” the private clients share.

  • The cabin is clad in black wood | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
    The cabin is clad in black wood Image: Maxime Brouillet
  • The refuge in the forest hosts the client’s whimsical personalities | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
    The refuge in the forest hosts the client’s whimsical personalities Image: Maxime Brouillet

The exterior and its contrast witnessed in the interior, of restrained black vs. honey gold, manifests the clients’ whimsical lifestyles, that contradict and complement each other. The 181 sqm residential design has been conceived as a “personalised alternative universe”, where the spaces inside remain lucid in contrast with the sturdy and dusky exterior that finds relief with a continuous wooden texture. The design approach was cogent and collaborative, and according to the Canadian architect, “developed with architectural mathematical rigour”.   

  • Inside the Memphis style inspired interiors of MEV Cabin | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
    Inside the Memphis style inspired interiors of MEV Cabin Image: Maxime Brouillet
  • The living area | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
    The living area Image: Maxime Brouillet

A design clash made bespoke for eclectic clients

An association of hues and geometries come alive under Memphis for the Canadian architecture, “antithesis to monotony and the monochromatic architecture and design,” at its inception, as described by Jean Verville. Seemingly tessellated, the studio’s interiors evoke this wacky world of the 80s, contrasted by a chorus of expressive and muted design expressions, communicating the liberal personalities of the owners.

  • The dark exterior houses glittering insides | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
    The dark exterior houses glittering insides Image: Maxime Brouillet
  • The cabin was built within a year | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
    The cabin was built within a year Image: Maxime Brouillet

“Its extravagance manifests itself in interiors with graphics, where volumes and materials development in a sparkling chromatic organisation... Playing with the possibilities of visual impact, the textures, colours, and materials exploit light in a kaleidoscopic reflection,” Verville explains.

The black exterior finds relief in the form of wooden textures | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
The black exterior finds relief in the form of wooden textures Image: Maxime Brouillet

Built within a year, the form, a dark volume confining glittering insides, is born of its integration into its surroundings of verdant nature, organic, linear and raw at the same time. The façade design is articulated in black wood cladding a long cubic volume, set apart by a gently curving on two sides, light as paper.

The organic form integrates quietly into the verdant forest | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
The organic form integrates quietly into the verdant forest Image: Maxime Brouillet (L); Maryse Béland (R)

The location of this “eclectic ensemble” is determined by the presence of a stream that crisscrosses the forested land within Montreal. On the south side, the linear layout of the rooms ensures a constant, panoramic view of the landscape and its stream. The two distinct volumes of the cabin design towards the north are connected by an entirely glazed entrance, appearing as an elongated blind façade, crowned by a solo roof.

  • The gently turning edges of the house | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
    The gently turning edges of the house Image: Maxime Brouillet
  • The cabin employs glass, steel and wood as base materials | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
    The cabin employs glass, steel and wood as base materials Image: Maryse Béland

“While an entirely mathematical logic of functionality invites the exclusion of roof surfaces in a Boolean diagram, its shape is redefined by a shift in the axis of the ridge, which thwarts the reading of the volumetry and animates the silhouette of a new complexity,” Verville continues. A structured system converges in a spatial, formal plan, while the volumes of the contextual architecture conceal both, domestic as well as storage areas.

The shifting shades within the home give it a whimsical character | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
The shifting shades within the home give it a whimsical character Image: Maryse Béland; Maxime Brouillet (R)

Volumes, surfaces, furniture and décor employed to create the cabin architecture play games of “formal opposition”, decorating themselves and the MEV cabin’s simple layout across a plethora of elements, patterns and colours “vying for traces of childhood”, in a whimsical setting. The juxtaposition of the angular, geometric exterior with the rounded, playful interior design embodies the soul of Memphis, of respectful contrast, and of not taking oneself too seriously.  

The honey-coloured, playful interiors vies for traces of childhood | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
The honey-coloured, playful interiors with traces of childhood wonderImage: Maxime Brouillet

“Quintessence of the getaway in nature, the Laurentian forest welcomes the house-studio on a parcel of its territory that has remained out of reach, providing a place of life and work, both vibrant and free,” Studio Jean Verville architectes conclude, who observe the impacts of popular culture with amusement within their oeuvre.

  • Inside the bedroom with forest green walls | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
    Inside the bedroom with forest green walls Image: Maxime Brouillet
  • Inside the bathroom pasted with colourful tiles | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
    Inside the bathroom pasted with colourful tiles Image: Maxime Brouillet

The Canadian design and architecture studio invites individual appropriations by emphasising the capacities of architecture to transform relationships with space. With its deliberately imperfect digital collages celebrating the multiplicity of perceptions, they develop architectural fantasies where the veracity of images and realities of everyday life are disputed.

  • Floor and roof plan | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
    Floor and roof plan Image: Courtesy of Studio Jean Verville architectes
  • Elevations | MEV Cabin by Studio Jean Verville | STIRworld
    Elevations Image: Courtesy of Studio Jean Verville architectes

Project Details

Name: MEV
Location: Montreal, Canada
Area: 181 sqm
Year of completion: 2022
Architect: Studio Jean Verville architectes
Design team: Jean Verville, architect (lead architect), Tania Paula Garza Rico, architect (studio director), France Goneau (artistic advisor), Rémi St-Pierre (architect),  Samuel Landry, Camille Asselin, Jacob Éthier, Bahia Burias

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