- matali crasset
- space for play - limited edition
materials: metal structure, plastic, foam cushion with coated fabric, ultraviolet wood’s lamp
dimensions: height 250 cm; diameter 190 cm
consisting of a platform topped by a corolla, an umbrella-shaped structure, “aequorea” was inspired by the majesty of the jellyfish, with the title of the work taken from its species name. jellyfish and spineless are often mentioned in the same breath and it is true that the creature’s structure is very fluid. if we take away the water, we are left with just a gelatinous skin. emulating the grace of this marine animal, matali crasset uses her materials parsimoniously and concentrates her work on the empty space, the site of the lovers’ encounter. “aequorea” is more space than object. contemporary architecture has decompartmentalized the home to allow more malleable pathways better adapted to the need for speed, but also respite, in modern life. and yet, for the same reason, we have lost many of our private places. matali embraces the challenge of recreating an environment conducive to intimacy while conceiving a structure that is modular enough to reap the benefits of openness in architectural spaces. “aequorea“ is therefore situated midway between design and architecture, on an intermediate plane. her work necessarily brings to mind the improvised cubbyholes we built in our bedrooms, using sheets, chairs and any number of other objects, when we were children. we recall the excitement we felt when we snuggled into this space, away from the world of adults and their rules. we could exchange secrets, invent our own little games and —since, after all, the subject here is preliminaries, or foreplay— sometimes play doctor as well. by enclosing the couple within a curtain of ropes, “aequorea” has the same effect on adults, with elegance as an added bonus. it’s all about intimacy, the need to be cut off from the rest of the world and rediscover the other face-to-face and alone. to reinforce this severed link with everyday life, matali has placed an ultraviolet wood’s lamp inside the corolla. colour perception is thus transformed and the lovers drift into a dreamlike state, a new dimension. and to make matters even more interesting, matali draws inspiration from the parallel worlds of barbarella, the comic book heroine imagined by jean-claude forest, paying tribute to this lyrical and sensual universe. it is a space serving as a reference: a quasi-aquatic, entirely fluid, space that softens contours, an invitation to let go completely and get in touch with inner feelings. this nod to the first liberated female comic book character also carries a feminist message, not a protest but instead a paean to the liberation of the body. if matali’s design could be seen as taking another stand it would certainly be a desire to break with routine and standardized behaviour. we need to upend our daily rituals. “aequorea”’s rounded surface is in direct contrast to the trivial rectangle of the bed, and thus allows bodies to move more freely. the contoured edge that defines the borders of the platform creates a kind of circular pillow opening myriad possibilities for lovers in all 360 degrees. although matali challenges our habits, she does not consider ritual as a bad thing in itself. on the contrary! rituals are essential to provide rhythm for our lives. it is the rote, humdrum, here-we-go-again quality that snuffs out the spark kindled by our shared moments. we need to learn how to renew our rituals so that they continue to enrich our lives: in order to ensconce oneself within “aequorea”, the ropes need to be pulled gradually to the exterior of the corolla, and the same operation must be performed in reverse in order to open it again. in both cases, space is being modified, creating a ritual that marks the beginning and the end of an intimate moment. in sum, aequorea works like an air lock that disconnects us from our everyday lives in order to awaken the sensuality within. far from accessorizing foreplay, matali’s triumphant design gives it a new playing field.