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Object of Desire: Philippe Model’s Woven Terrace Furniture

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Object of Desire: Philippe Model’s Woven Terrace Furniture

June 9, 2022

This began as a Shopper’s Diary post, about an overflowing shop near the Odéon in Paris, in which new editions of standard street furniture, seen outside any French bar or brasserie, are taken to a celestial level. The mesmerizing patterns are the result of veteran designer Philippe Model’s special way with color, and the shop, according to his assistant Pierre Griperay, “gives a good idea of what it’s like inside Philippe’s mind.” We decided to move out of that confined yet infinite space, taking chairs, tables, stools, and benches out into the countryside around Philippe Model Maison’s atelier, in the Burgundy region of France.

Let’s explore:

Photography by Philippe Model.

Above: Philippe Model brings extra zing to the traditional furniture of French pavements.

All the furniture in the shop is made in Philippe Model’s very spacious rural atelier near Sens, 120km southeast of Paris. It is operated by only six people, an artisan family of skilled craftspeople or “peasant-workers,” says Monsieur Model, including himself—though he is the owner-peasant-worker and, in the words of Pierre, “the sole one to have this genius mind in colors and harmonies.” One of the lovely things about talking to Philippe Model is his playful modesty about the whole operation. Fashion people know Model from his bags and hats; art people know him as an exhibition designer; private clients know him as a “French-fresh decorator.”

Above: Bench seat, in a diagonal pattern. “It’s like a color kitchen in his mind,” says Pierre.

The weaving material is “high-end synthetic,” a plant-based plastic that originates in the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis). It is weather-resistant and keeps its vibrancy, looking just as sprightly outdoors near the Mediterranean, or indoors in a city apartment. Woven around bent rattan, its iconic French-ness takes it anywhere. Model describes his clients as “beautiful people,” from “the most aristocratic couple to the peasant-workers that we are.”

Above: A stack of reinvigorated bar chairs. Woven terrace furniture is available to buy in the shop on rue Racine, or by commission.

The Philippe Model Maison shop in Paris is on the Left Bank’s rue Racine; it runs from the St Michel quarter to that of St Germain des Prés, an area that is still known for its galleries and antiquaires. “It is expensive and brands are everywhere but there are also small shops and plenty of curiosities.”

Above: In the country, woven furniture reminds people of towns; in towns they are reminded of being out of doors.

“Philippe Model never takes holidays because colors, tinting, and making things… drawing shoes, making hats and inventing new weavings—all of this, it’s already his holidays.”

Above: New chair shapes and always, new colors. Philippe Model estimates that he has made about 5000 different color harmonies to date.

“We have two retailers who sell our chairs: one in Saint-Malo, Brittany, and Studio ALM in Sydney, Australia. It’s enough for us because the atelier is full of orders already, and we do not want to grow the team. Six is big enough.”

Above: Infinite colorways come in five basic patterns, with this one called ‘Ray’.

Philippe Model Maison is at 19, rue Racine, 75006 Paris. Open Tuesday-Saturday. Prices on application.

For more Object of Desire posts, see:

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