Utopie Plastic

by appointment
01 july 2017
01 october 2017

Contact Presse:
Sparkling Presse Julie Boisson

Our second summer run at the Friche de l’Escalette introduces a colourful array of plastic bubbles touched down amid stone ruins, like a set from Star Trek.

In fact, they are rare models of futuristic plastic habitat from the late 60s/early 70s, an era that ended after the 1973 oil crisis.



Hexacube (1972) by Georges Candilis & (1913-1995) Anja Blomstedt (b. 1937).

Candilis was one of the live wires in Le Corbusier’s office, where he worked during construction of the Cité Radieuse in Marseilles. Greek by origin he is best known for his resort villages at Port-Leucate and Port-Barcarès, built between 1964 and 1972 and now listed as historic landmarks. He also designed a beach-side colony of organic Hexacube ‘space cells’, which delighted generations of holidaymakers before being dismantled. Luckily, they were saved from annihilation thanks to the clear sightedness of Clément Cividino, a young antique dealer from Perpignan.
Our exemplar – unique by its colour red – was purchased from a former collaborator of Candilis.


The Bulle six coques by French designer Jean Maneval (1923-1986), launched in 1968, is another Flower Power- period icon. Ever since an aficionado bought some twenty units from a holiday camp at Gripp in the Pyrenees, it is a regular feature at international design fairs like the recent Triennale in Milan.
This exemplar was bought from a nurseryman in the Var region, who used it as a winter shed for his cacti.


The legendary Futuro House by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen (1933-2013) also hit the scene in ‘68. Sixty copies of this smooth saucer were made and have skimmed all over the planet where they are jealously guarded by their owners – a motley crew of hardliners in touch via the web, who range from a New Zealand surfer to a Californian billionaire collector of architectural masterworks.

The exemplar on show at l’Escalette comes from Majorca, where it premiered as a show model in the hope that it would sell like hot cakes. Alas, it ended up dumped in a pinewood before being sold off on the net.

These houses will serve as showcases to present important pieces of designer plastic furniture:

The prototype of the Boomerang desk (1969) by Maurice Calka (1921-1999) in its ‘Grand PDG’ version with integrated seat. Aerospace inflatable seats in orange or blue plastic, by Quasar Khanh (1934-2016), Philippe Starck’s soul father and mentor of plastic design guru

Benoît Ramognino, better known as Ben, who has brought out an absorbing biography of this incredibly imaginative inventor. Ben will be launching his book at the Friche de l’Escalette on 23 June. (Quasar Khanh designer visionnaire, in collaboration with Marc Mineray, Fabrice Peltier, Benjamin Chelly, publisher Albin Michel).

Several brightly coloured biomorphic shapes will round out the set, of which the Baby molar chair (1971) by Wendell Castle and the ergonomic Tomato divan by Eero Aarnio (1971).


Not to mention Playground (1968) by Werner Zemp, a rare monumental sculpture designed as a prototype for a kindergarten in Zurich, whose playful yellow forms invite discovery.

Plus several Spacemodule maquettes in resin by this same creator, who trained under Max Bill, that testify to his avant- garde architectural research.


exhibitionUtopie Plastic