Book List of the Week

Matali Crasset’s Book List: The Written Word and the Freedom to Invent

By Steve Kroeter September 3, 2013
Matali Crasset, product designer (Paris)
View Matali Crasset’s Book List

“Books have always accompanied me to help me clarify my thoughts and reflect on my practice,” writes the boundary-pushing French industrial designer Matali Crasset (she prefers to write her name as “matali crasset”) in the introduction to her book list. Crasset, whose work also encompasses interiors, architecture, and art installations, names among the books that have helped to crystallize her thinking titles ranging from a biting social critique by novelist Emile Zola (an author she says she “read and reread as a teenager”) to a book on the process and politics of organic wine-making.

Crasset also includes Georges Perec's cult classic Les Choses (Things), a skewering of 1960s consumer culture, saying, “Beyond the issues it addresses, my fascination with Perec’s work perhaps lies in the echo that I see in my practice as a designer: within the very specific and restrictive rules of writing, you can always find the freedom to invent, similar to the way the product designer creates something inventive within the constraints of industry.”

Matali Crasset. Photo: Julien Carreyn

Another book on her list is Gaston Bachelard's exploration of the way we experience intimate spaces, including our homes, published in English as The Poetics of Space. Crasset calls it “A superb, fascinatingly poetic text. Some phrases have remained with me like enigmas but possessing a terrible beauty. This book accompanied me during my final-year diploma project at the Ateliers where I worked with water, light, and fire on my ‘Domestic Trilogy.’” Crasset quotes Bachelard: “The house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows us to dream in peace.”

“Bibliobeach,” designed by Matali Crasset, 2013, Romaniquette Beach. Istres, France. Photo: © Philippe Piron.  The mobile temporary beach library includes a selection of books personally curated by Crasset.

Some of the books Crasset chooses can, in fact, be found in one of her latest designs, a temporary mobile beach library she created for the town of Istres in southern France and stocked with up to 350 hardcover and paperback books, many carefully selected by Crasset. Individual outside alcoves were added so that so that everyone “can escape with a book,” says Crasset. The steel-framed, fabric-covered “Bibliobeach,” which Crasset hopes will encourage lending as well as reading and lounging with books, is open through this September 2013. (Update: Bibliobeach returns July 1, 2014.)

The full range of Matali Crasset’s unconventional and award-winning work, which always has the end user in mind as its ultimate consideration, can be seen in the pages of her innovatively designed monograph (projects are arranged by theme and color-coded) published by Rizzoli  in 2012. The book, with a text by Alexandra Midal, features an introduction by Art Institute of Chicago architecture and design curator Zoë Ryan.

You can view Matali Crasset’s book list, the 43rd book list from product designers, on Designers & Books.

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