Jean-Marie Massaud: Objects as Words | The Plan
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Jean-Marie Massaud: Objects as Words

Jean-Marie Massaud

In 1999, Jean-Marie Massaud, Thierry Gaugain and Patrick Jouin showed their installation Luxlab at the Milan Salone Satellite. The sloping green lawn, reflective pool and lit fireplace were an eloquent metaphor of a new concept of luxury: the well-being derived from immaterial pleasures like contemplating water and flame, and communing with nature (lying on the grassy slope). Seen with hindsight, that installation marked a point of departure for Jean-Marie Massaud’s work. His subsequent projects seek to redefine the very concept of life, and propose values: time, the need to take time for oneself, space, communing with nature, enhancing individual worth through sensory pleasures and greater interaction with others. For Massaud, matter and objects are essentially relation-generators. “Objects”, he says, “are words”. They should be used to make up sentences. Sentences that give meaning to our lives.
Massaud’s subject is life. Serious stuff! But delivered without hubris.
Massaud never tires of pointing out the need to educate. He wants to create alternatives to the pre-packaged lifestyles served up by the marketing industry. He is bent on changing the system. Sure, the tone is somewhat moralistic, but Massaud avoids the soap-box harangues à la Enzo Mari. His manner is more measured as befits one who acknowledges he is part of the modern production system, although intent on changing it from within.
Massaud does not eschew the power of the big brands and their influence on consumers. Indeed he works with them, “not only to direct their images but also their consciences”. And the partnerships work. Massaud moves among the cosmetic giants. He was responsible for Lancôme’s store and spa brand identity (2003/2005) in Paris, New York, Shanghai, Seoul and Hong Kong; he designed Paloma Picasso’s fragrance bottles and the Cacharel bottle for Nemo, the men’s perfume. In 2000, Massaud not only redesigned the outlets of Sephora Blanc, the French cosmetics giant...

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