Wizard of Hose
Jean-Marie Massaud’s collection for Axor is the epitome of style. Maria Louis meets the designer par excellence who plumbs the essence of nature.
It was fitting that I was introduced to French designer Jean-Marie Massaud on a houseboat sailing along the backwaters of Kerala – for it is just such laidback experiences of life that trigger off his ideas for Hansgrohe’s range of designer bath fittings.
His spirits visibly uplifted after watching the dramatic snakeboat race that Kerala is famed for, he declares with a flourish: “We don’t need heaters, we need warmth. We don’t need lamps, we need light. We don’t need taps, we need water!” And so, Massaud’s plumbing fixtures become unique sculptures dispossessed of technology – connecting us to one of the most fundamental elements of life: water.
“For Jean-Marie Massaud, the person, his feelings and his needs take centrestage,” explains Philippe Grohe, head of the Axor brand. “With his design and spatial concept, he always searches for the elementary connection with what is natural.
This is mirrored by the collection Axor Massaud.” Grohe is, of course, referring to the harmonious connection between organic and geometric forms, natural aesthetics and modern design that the collection establishes.
It doesn’t just symbolise a new language of design, but exemplifies a new bathroom philosophy: a new view of the relationships between people, water and space.
Born in 1966 in Toulouse, France, Massaud graduated in 1990 from Les Ateliers, Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle, Paris. He created the Studio Massaud with Daniel Pouzet in 2000 and widened his activity to architecture.
Together, they drive projects like the Tanabe House in Fukuoka, Japan. His contextual approach focuses on the search of the essential, where individuals are the centre of the debate.
Massaud focuses on different aspects of design: from industrial products to pieces of furniture. His award-winning creations are featured in the prestigious collections of design museums and other institutions in Amsterdam, Chicago, London, Paris or Zurich.
He defines the architectural images of the Lancôme stores in Paris, New York and Hong Kong or Renault’s performance at international auto shows. Recently, he made news for his Manned Cloud – a whale-shaped airship known as the flying hotel. His biggest architectural project to date is the 50,000-seat soccer stadium in Guadalajara, Mexico, christened ‘Volcano’.
After successful projects for companies such as Armani, Cacharel, Cassina and Cappelini oder Baccarat, Massaud brought his creative genius to work for Axor, the designer brand of Hansgrohe – and developed his vision of the ideal bathroom in 2005 within the project ‘Axor WaterDream’, which assumed shape in the collection Axor Massaud.
Inspired by nature and in keeping with the modern-day leaning of the urban population towards the original relationship of man to nature, his collection retraces the path back to our simple beginnings and helps users to relax in harmony with the elements. In fact, creating a symbiosis between man, nature and space is Massaud’s guiding tenet. “It is my belief that design can arouse genuine feelings in people,” he says.
It is these feelings that he wants to appeal to, with his designs. But since a person’s physical and emotional well-being will only be able to develop when he is in harmony with his surroundings, Massaud seeks the perfect balance between space and product – a balance that can only be achieved when the objects in a room no longer appear as functional products, but as ceremonial sculptures in which technology isn’t the focus of attention.
Massaud uses the object’s beauty, emotionality and association with nature to integrate them into his spatial concepts. This corresponds to our vision of giving a new sense of meaning to our living space, and giving shape to our emotions. In Massaud’s spatial concept, the simplicity and beauty of what is natural is transported into a household environment – the bathroom.
Here, a person can find himself, can turn his back on daily routine, and can relax in complete harmony with the elements. The bathroom becomes a living space; and its purpose is not just hygiene and mere bodily cleansing, but the sensual experience of water.
Axor Massaud: Inspired by Nature
With their elegance and emotionality, the fixtures and accessories from Axor Massaud fit into the concept of the bathroom as a living space. Organic lines inspired by nature are brought into harmonious rapport with geometric forms. There are softly curving lines here, the natural fall of water there.
And between these is the clear geometry and cleverly concealed technology. An asymmetrically- arranged and generously-sized storage surface crowns the nearly 400mm-wide single-lever faucet mixer. A broad torrent of water pours out from this into the basin.
The slim base unit of the mixer is reminiscent of a stem growing upwards into a slight curve, similar to the bend of a blade of grass.
As always with Axor, the Massaud collection also includes an abundance of components and accessories that have been coordinated with each other, from wash basin mixers to bathtub fittings, from soap baskets to a floor-stand towel rack in the shape of a small tree.
A moulded mineral washbowl also belongs to the collection as well as the freestanding bathtub. This ensures that the design of the bathroom environment is tailored to individual needs.
Vanity/Sink: Single-lever washbasin mixer
Single-lever washbasin mixer for wash bowls
3-hole washbasin mixer
3-hole washbasin mixer, wall-mounted version
Bidet: Single-lever bidet mixer 3-hole bidet mixer
Bathtub: Single-lever bathtub mixer, floor-standing version
4-hole bathtub mixer for rim-mounted version
4-hole bathtub mixer for mounting on tile
Concealed tub filler
Shower: Concealed shower tap
Thermostats: Concealed thermostat (with shutoff or shutoff/selector)
Washbasin: Mineral resin (Ø 570 mm, 800 mm)
Accessories:Wide range of accessories
Bathtub: Innovative high-tech material, freestanding (1900 x 1550 x 620 mm)
Design: Jean-Marie Massaud, Paris
Design awards: iF Product Design Award 2006 for single-lever washbasin mixer for wash bowls and 3-hole washbasin mixer