Villa Arson, Nice, 2023

Villa Arson, Nice, France


The Villa Arson, École nationale supérieure d'art de Nice, invited smarin to design a reception area for visitors, students and teachers.

Extending his experience of spatial arrangements for public spaces, smarin presents the geometric life, a comfortable, lightweight, composable and durable installation.
It is a system of construction of furnishing and structuring elements based on nail- and screwless assemblies of blocks of pure, healthy materials, hand-crafted in a short circuit in smarin's workshops.
This alternative habitat nomenclature, combining variable geometry and landscape reminiscence, makes it possible to explore the paradigms of frugal living.

Landscape integration and respect for topography

Michel Marot's vision, architect of the Villa Arson

Architect who designed the Villa Arson in the 60s, his approach to design is characterized by the integration of each project into its existing topography, establishing a dialogue between site and architecture. The geometric life deploys this approach on the furniture scale. Instead of reshaping the space, the system is based on the principle of customizing the structures of the built space, following the natural contours of the inhabited volume. It fits into the interior landscape with a respectful, rooted approach. In the manner of Michel Marot, who constantly sought to minimize the visual impact of his constructions, the smarin system does not seek to stand out, but rather to serve its users and integrate naturally into the everyday context, as an extension of the architecture, itself an extension of the landscape.

A construction system

A composition of solid wood forms (oak planks, beech dowels) and cork blocks forms the basis for building highly stable structures: the 'nail-less, screw-less' wooden assemblies are both extremely solid and perfectly dismantlable.
Each piece is made from pure, untreated materials, carefully selected for their natural qualities :
- Cork is renowned for its anti-static, thermal, phonic and ecological properties. Harvesting cork helps maintain forests. Its mechanical and physical qualities are remarkable: lightness, elasticity, rot-proofing, impermeability and age-old durability...
- Wooden parts are made from solid, untreated oak and beech. materials.
These elements are easy to maintain and renovate over the long term. They are standard, allowing an infinite number of functional constructions: storage, desk, chaise longue, sofa, armchair, linear wall, partition, enfilade, hut... This extreme adaptability to the built environment transforms moves, moves and moves of all kinds into simple joys.

A polytypological, reversible furniture system

Reversible :

chemistry/thermo: said of an ideal process, the limit of two families of real transformations, which can be considered as a sequence of infinitely neighboring equilibrium states. ant. irreversible.

- non-toxic materials
- frugality: simplicity of equipment, and optimization of overall efficiency
- solidity of assemblies and weight capacity
- longevity: easy to wash, maintain and refurbish when new
- ergonomics: adapted to all morphologies, with adaptable heights and highly resilient elements
- adaptability to the built environment: makes itself useful and conforms to the volume of each space.
- autonomy: enters into a dialogue with architecture and allows spaces to be structured.
- economy: allows changes of address without requiring new investments in furniture
- reversibility: a set can be used as a sofa, a desk or a wall-mounted shelf
- lightness: easy to move, easy to transform, easy to store.

Brutalist materiality

smarin's installation echoes the Villa Arson's raw concrete walls, which display the traces of their formwork, in a reference to Brutalism. The choice of pure, untreated materials that constitute the geometric life, such as solid wood and cork, continues this celebration of material in its most elemental state. Sustainability is a key principle in Brutalist architecture, as it is in smarin's installation, where the materials chosen guarantee longevity, reaffirming a commitment to design that both endures and respects its environment.

Associated collections