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Studio Odile Decq

Paris, France
FRAC Bretagne, museum for contemporary art in Rennes, France
1 of 2
FRAC Bretagne, museum for contemporary art in Rennes, France
Roland Halbe

STUDIO ODILE DECQ

MULTIPLES SENSATIONS

Studio Odile Decq designs at all scales.

The firm philosophy is dominated by an exacting approach and is entirely dedicated to spatial experimentation. For twenty years Odile Decq has created an architecture centered on the dynamic opening of spaces that developp the concept of « hyper tension », in which the intégration of movement generates tension and complexity in the perception of space. She thus questions the place of the body and the sense in architecture. It was also this that led to the “multiple itineraries” approach, developed from one project to another. From the BPO bank in Rennes, the first significant work built in 1990, through to the MACRO and the FRAC contemporary Art Museums, delivered in 2010 and 2012, all are designed around physical movement through space. It is an interactive architecture.

The concept of itinerary is intrinsic to the design philosophy.

Nevertheless, the introduction of sensuality has been gradual and did not detract from the radical nature of the options taken. “Sensation”, also developped through art installations such as Sensual Hypertension for Storefront New York in 2004, is the underlying theme of MACRO, the flagship project that synthesises an approach that first saw light of day 20 years ago. The result is a sense of movement across oblique surfaces and along angled ramps. The itinerary through the MACRO museum is more based on the creation of relationships than on challenging visitors. It’s goal is to prepare the visitors, to make them more open to contemporary art. The itinerary leads to a large roof terrace overlooking the city below.

By questioning the commission, the use, the matter, the body, the technics, the taste, Studio Odile Decq’s architecture offers a paradoxical view, both tender and severe, on today’s world, giving birth to works such as the A14 viaduct in Nanterre, the buildings for the Economic Sciences University Department and for the University of Law Library in Nantes.

On a smaller scale, the development of design alongside architecture is a new experimental direction taken by the firm at the begining of the new century. Everything began with a commission in 2001 for the furniture to be used in the UNESCO Conference Hall in Paris. The idea was to incorporate a new level of modernity into this typical 1950s architecture. The result was a highly dynamic and colourful reception desk, armchairs and sculpted conversation seats. Since then, the firm has continued to work with the industrial sector and the MACRO provided an excellent setting to introduce innovative ideas ranging from restroom basins to lighting and seating. “I don’t always draw, I simply tell a story and build with my hands," explains Odile Decq. The same conceptual approach is applied to both architecture and design works.

But looking ahead it would seem that, at this moment, it goes towards a greater freedom of expression.

Rather than working alone with her collaborators on dream projects to be achieved by squads of engineers, Odile Decq prefers integrating the dialogue with technicians into the creation process as early as possible. With her demanding sense of detail, she likes to confront herself with their invaluable knowledge and to understand the production mechanisms. By questioning a line, a material, an assemblage, by analyzing the economic or sensual profits in these mutations, everybody finds their place and feels like drawn into the work. This is no longer mechanical. The interest, the difficulty, become sources of pleasure and of pride.

But more than the realization of the Studio Odile Decq, more than a style, an attitude or a process of production, Odile Decq’s work is a complete universe, including architecture, design and contemporary art. A versatility acknowledged this year with the awarded title of Designer of the Year Maison&Objet.

Paris, France
AleeshaCallahan, April 4th, 2013