Henri Matisse

Maison Matisse: emotion and innovation in homage to the artist

During the FIAC, in October 2019, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Henri Matisse, the fourth generation of the artist's family is launching the House Matisse with the aim of celebrating, transmitting and sharing the audacity and values of a universal artist, proposing a three-dimensional interpretation of his universe celebrating shapes and colours. In January 2020, a new collection of design objects will also be launched, created in collaboration with young designers and craftsmen, figures of excellence in European and global know-how.
CSome stories are too good to have an ending. Henri Matisse's story began at the Cateau Cambresis, 150 years ago, and has never really stopped, carried by the harmony of his painting and the power of a message that make him a major artist of the 20th century. A legacy that the fourth generation of the family, led by Jean Matthieu Matisse, has wanted to transcend today, by founding not a brand but a House, reflecting the spirit and values of a painter who has always dared to dare the audacity of happiness.
Matisse's optimism is his gift to our sick world, his example to those who indulge in torment.
Louis Aragon" (1)
Henri Matisse in Beauvezer - 1935 - Photo: Archives H. Matisse, DR

Through his great openness to the world, his absence of dogmatism and his never-weakened capacity for innovation, his mastery of colour and composition as vectors of emotion, Henri Matisse is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for artists all over the world. His legacy still infuses contemporary visual creation and culture today.
In its own image, the House intends to evolve far from the beaten track and at its own pace, as authentic as possible, mindful of its singularity. If in his time Henri Matisse knew how to put this universe on canvas with a brush, Maison Matisse extends it with the object that was so dear to him. While the permanent collection (launched in the first quarter of 2020) will be faithful to Henri Matisse's artistic vocabulary, the limited editions (launched in October 2019) will instead draw inspiration from these elements to propose a new interpretation of his work by guest designers.
Thus Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Jaime Hayon and Alessandro Mendini were each invited to design three vases, 8 + 4 copies of each, made by their own craftsmen. They were given carte blanche to give free rein to their imagination in order to create pieces that are both original and demanding, while remaining sensitive to the balance of shapes and colours of Henri Matisse. Generous, audacious, optimistic, these objects embody the enjoyment of the creative gesture and the symbiosis between conception and realization, the designer's drawing and the craftsman's know-how.
This unique collection celebrates the 150th anniversary of Henri Matisse's birth.
Our house has decided to perpetuate and promote the work of our ancestor Henri Matisse, a major painter of the 20th century, by supporting the expression of a three-dimensional interpretation of his work, guided by his emotional and pictorial values. Far from a literal transcription, it is a question, both for the designers and for the craftsmen (the creators of the 21st century) that we have chosen, of extending his singularity, his optimistic, joyful and soothing universe, with all the required requirement and creativity. The foundation of this approach is guided by the desire for an interpretation that respects Henri Matisse's personal values and artistic universe. The mission of our House is to share universally the very special emotion attached to sensitive objects that transmit the invigorating, poetic and singular gaze of our great-grandfather. It is for us an opportunity to show and review the force of inspiration contained in his work, and we hope to offer you a new reading of the paintings to which each of these objects refers. In this way, we wish to allow new generations from all over the world to discover this eternal joy and to enjoy it in their daily lives.
Jean Matthieu Matisse "


If Maison Matisse is first and foremost a tribute to the artist, it is also the fruit of the commitment of the new generations of the family and the illustration of the values that have been passed down over the years. When Henri Matisse talks about "an art of balance and purity that neither worries nor disturbs, so that the weary man tastes calm and rest in front of his painting." (2) His words have a profound meaning that still resonates today with the intentions of the House and is reflected in its collections.
Henri Matisse draws - 1931 - Photo: Archives H. Matisse, DR

Whether it is a vase or a centerpiece, Maison Matisse objects wish to become the ambassadors of a philosophy and not a trend, preferring to be part of the continuity of a quest for the eternal rather than ephemeral consumption. This is why Maison Matisse evolves in a world of ideas and sensations, where creation speaks a universal language, both the purest and the most audacious, that of beauty. Because emotion is the most generous of gifts, Maison Matisse intends to share it through objects, the same ones that surrounded Henri Matisse at the time, when he confessed : "My goal is to return my emotion. This state of mind is created by the objects that surround me and that react in me: from the horizon to myself, including myself." (3).
In other words, an ode to life that twists the neck to negativity, more than ever indispensable for looking to the future with optimism. But also... a conviction and the condition to keep intact our capacity to marvel at the world. This power, the objects proposed by Maison Matisse hope to assert it through surprises, one year after the other, thanks to the participation of designers and craftsmen from the four corners of the globe. Their cultures, their thoughts, their gestures are the traces of a timeless awareness and demand. Their creations embody the desire for serenity.

Presentation of the limited edition collection

The Matisse family has always shown discretion, preferring to let Henri Matisse's work speak for itself. His art belongs to everyone today, thanks to the universal scope of his message, which is as ethical as it is aesthetic. The time had come for the Matisse family to take the lead in order to give voice to this legacy... But it was still necessary to know how to embody it, to interpret it, to find the right words to take it even further. After all, who better than them? And what could be better than an ephemeral collection of limited edition vases, echoing those objects that have been the actors of the painter's canvases, created by designers and creators who gather around Maison Matisse, like a family.
The project was conceived with all the freedom desired by Jean Matthieu Matisse and Eliana Di Modica, General Manager of the House, without forgetting the precious collaboration of Chantal Granier who, at the origin of the limited edition collection, chose and made the three designers discuss the work of Henri Matisse.
A guardian figure was needed. Having passed through Memphis and the radical avant-gardes, a master of colour, Alessandro Mendini was an obvious choice. Initially surprised by the proposal, he finally confessed by delivering his first sketches: "This is my recess.".
From one generation to the next, Jaime Hayon has filled a book of drawings and cut-out papers from the very first meeting, full of enthusiasm and generosity, plunging into this collaboration with his legendary optimism and above all happy to rediscover his passion for ceramics.
Finally, the Bouroullec brothers came to complete this cosmopolitan adventure, seduced by the profusion and sensuality inspired by Matisse's work.

Alessandro Mendini

Alessandro Mendini in his studio in Milan - © Carlo Lavatori

Alessandro Mendini was born in Milan (1931-2019). As a child he lived in a bourgeois house designed by Piero Portaluppi, surrounded by paintings by Savinio, Severini, Campigli and Morandi, belonging to his parents' collection of modern paintings. This artistic environment was fundamental for his education.
With a degree in architecture, he confronts Rogers, Nizzoli and Ponti. He is interested in writing, theory and drawing. He directs the magazines "Casabella" (1970-1976), "Modo" (1977-1981) and "Domus" (1980-1985; 2010-2011) and publishes the book Paesaggio Casalingo (1978), Architettura addio (1981), Progetto infelice (1983), Scritti (2004) and Scritti di Domenica (2016). In the magazines he directs, he is the spokesman for an eclectic and incoherent architecture, a marvellous machine that mixes styles and languages, borrowing them from contemporary, history, art and mass production. Mendini defines his research as a kaleidoscope, "a state of continuous movement, splinters, fragments of a visual system, fragments of the contemporary imagination".
Since the 1970s, it has become the benchmark for post-modern design. He has defended the banal and the kitsch, secret weapons with which functionalist and serious architecture can be redeemed from boredom. He founded and directed Alchimia from 1979 to 1991, one of the most famous radical design groups in the world, whose main idea is the hybridization between the arts.  
Since then, he has created a fairy-tale world of objects, furniture, prototypes, paintings, writings and installations that are often intertwined, complex, paradoxical and ironic. He has collaborated with companies such as Alessi, Bisazza, Hermès, Philips, Kartell, Swatch, Venini, Cartier and has been a consultant for various Korean industries [such as Ramun, Cha Hospital, CPS Group, Samsung, LG], defining an approach to image and design issues.
Mendini also taught at the Hochschule für Andgewandte Kunst in Vienna, was one of the founders of the Domus Academy and honorary professor at the Academic Council of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in China. He was awarded the title of "Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres" in France, received the honours of the Architectural League of New York, honorary citizenship of the city of Gwangju in Korea and was named honorary member of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. He received the Compasso d'Oro in 1979 for Modo magazine and in 1981 for Research on Decoration.
In 2014 he was awarded the Compasso d'Oro for his entire career. He received honorary degrees from the Milan Polytechnic, the École Normale Supérieure de Cachan in Paris, the Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw in Poland and the KMU-Kookmin University in Seoul, Korea. In 2015, he received the European Architecture Award 2014 in Chicago and became Mestre of Design at the FAD in Barcelona, Spain.
His works are in several museums and private collections around the world. His work seems to have two souls: one solitary and introverted and the other devoted to collective activities. Many of his works are created by Mendini himself, but many of his groups are made up of both strangers and great designers and artists.
If I close my eyes and think of Henri Matisse, the first word that comes to mind is purity, and the second light. Matisse is a pure, solar and total spirit and painter. For me, the elements on which he works and makes his imagination play are the leaves of plants in their vases, domestic spaces with their furniture and objects, naked and clothed women, all intertwined within a decorative spatiality decorated with arabesques. Any relationship, any empathy between myself and the figurative world of this great character could only start from an object, and more precisely from a vase. I have been designing vases for many years, and I have studied their forms from ancient Egypt to China, Korea, the Italian Renaissance, the Viennese Secession. To pay homage to Matisse, I've been thinking about a complex, sinuous, organic form, as if they were concept sheets - here with a somewhat Liberty memory, and there with important silhouettes drawn from the structure and geometry of some of his paintings. The complex chromatic system developed by Matisse over time has led me to select the shades by analysing details of some of his works from different periods, in order to obtain a range that can be solar and dark, erotic and natural, abstract and concrete. In this way, I developed a palette of eight colours (plus white and black). Similarly, I have defined three decorative styles superimposed by hand. The three ceramic vases in my collection are characterized by progressive dimensions, each of them has its own shape, each one uses six of the eight colours developed for the occasion (plus white and black), fired separately, alternating shiny and opaque areas. Preparatory drawings by Alessandro Mendini Text of inspiration Their delicate manufacture was entrusted to the Florentine master craftsman Alessio Sarri, owner of a workshop with a rich history in the field of modern ceramics. Alessandro Mendini "
Puro vase in Alessio Sarri's workshop - © Jérôme Galland

The vases designed by Alessandro Mendini and made by Alessio Sarri are the result of outstanding technical research and a meticulous manufacturing process. Cast and unmoulded by hand, the top of each vase is cut by hand while the earth is still wet. The pieces are composed of 6 to 8 colours that cook at a different temperature. Each vase required one firing per colour. A mixture of two different earthenware has been developed to withstand the 8 successive firings at more than 900 degrees. The glazes were also adapted to combine perfectly with the new earthenware.
In order to make the colours vibrate, Alessandro Mendini wanted to create a contrast between matt and glossy surfaces. Thus, the interior and the background of the rooms are matt white with a biscuit effect. On the outside, the enamels are glossy, with the exception of matt black and white. Each vase consists of about 20 colour areas. The colour is applied on each zone with an airbrush after a masking work to protect the other coloured parts. The outline of each colour is finished with a brush to create clean lines. 65 hours, with a lot of patience and passion, created three exceptional vases. Each piece is numbered and signed by the designer and craftsman.
Jaime Hayon Limited Edition Collection
Jaime Hayon in his workshop - © Klunderbie

Why not enjoy unlimited reading of UP'? Subscribe from €1.90 per week.

The Spanish artist and designer Jaime Hayon was born in Madrid in 1974. Thanks to his collections such as "Mediterranean Digital Baroque" and "My Circus", he has been able to assert his artistic vision. His creations place him at the forefront of a new wave that blurs the boundaries between art, decoration, design and the rebirth of refined and complex objects in the context of contemporary design culture.
Jaime Hayon expresses his aesthetics through solo exhibitions in prestigious galleries, as well as in design and art fairs around the world. He has also created furniture for comics. Barcelona, Cassina, Fritz Hansen, & Tradition and Magis; lighting fixtures for Parachilna, Metalarte and Swarovski and more precious objects for Bisazza, Lladró and Baccarat. He has also designed the interiors of major hotels, restaurants and boutiques around the world.
Preparatory drawings by Jaime Hayon

Currently residing in Valencia, Jaime Hayon has offices in Barcelona, Spain and Treviso, Italy. His work is published in prestigious international art and design publications. He has won the Elle Decoration International Design award, was presented by Wallpaper in its list of "Top 100" designers and is recognized by the magazine as one of the most influential designers of the last decade. He has also been defined as a "visionary" and one of the most creative icons by Times magazine.
One of the things I admire most in Matisse's work is the use of colour, so well integrated, so special, used in a magical way. It reflects both the traces of different cultures and the dynamic and rich journey of a unique life. His stroke is a combination of precision and figurative ability. Studying his paintings, one can find a rich combination of elements including his representation of nature combined with imaginative furniture and the use of objects from cultures important to him. Henri Matisse uses solid figures; the contrast of colours is magnificent. The most important point I feel I share with Matisse is his passion for the Mediterranean: nature, the sea, imagination and the ability to dream. The choice and use of blues and oranges remind me of the medinas, orange blossoms and markets of North Africa. Codes like these transport me to a Mediterranean full of strength and magic. I am a fervent admirer of its style and have always found it a true source of inspiration. Having the opportunity to transpose the inspiration I find in his work into my personal cosmography has been very enriching. Preparatory drawings by Jaime Hayon Inspirational text The concept behind these vases is based on fantastic elements: shapes, silhouettes and natural references that merge and float in a sea of colours. The shape of the vase itself is inspired by Mediterranean references and elements that appear in Matisse's work. Tradition and daring come together to create unique and defined exterior lines that give strength and character to the style and concept of the design. Jaime Hayon "
Earthenware vase " Aeromaticolor " by Jaime Hayon

The three vases designed by Jaime Hayon were made in Italy by Bosa, an artisan factory located in the Venetian mountains, which produces according to ancient ceramic manufacturing techniques. All the pieces in the collection are made from white clay paste. When the pieces come out of the plaster moulds, they are carefully polished to remove any irregularities. Once glazed, the pieces are decorated with the designer's designs and fired in the kiln at 930 degrees up to seven times to achieve maximum quality and durability. The manufacturing of each piece required 15 hours of work and 18 hours of firing and resulted in three unique vases. Each piece is numbered and signed by the designer and craftsman.
Limited edition collection Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec
Ronan Bouroullec and Erwan Bouroullec, French creators born in Quimper in 1971 and 1976 respectively, have been working together since 1999. From industrial design to craftsmanship, from mass production to research, from the object to the public space, the creations of Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec are deployed in multiple fields of expression and have gradually become part of our daily lives.
Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec in their workshop - © Asger Mortensen

Their backgrounds range from collaborations with the biggest international design publishers to multiple craftsmen with ancestral knowledge from Europe to Japan. Numerous research projects have led to collaborations with the greatest international museums. Several urban projects have been carried out in many countries. Several monographic exhibitions have been devoted to them (Design Museum (London, 2002), Museum of Contemporary Art - MOCA (Los Angeles, 2004), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam, 2004), Victoria & Albert Museum (London, 2011), Museum of Contemporary Art, (Chicago, 2012), Centre national d'art et de culture Georges-Pompidou (2012), Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Paris, 2013)). Their work has been included in the largest international collections: the Museum of Modern Art - MoMA (New York), the Centre national d'art et de culture Georges-Pompidou (Paris); the Art Institute of Chicago, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Paris); the Design Museum (London).
Several monographic publications testify to their work, notably at Éditions Phaidon, including Works, Phaidon Press London, 2012. Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have received numerous awards such as the Grand Prix de la Création de la Ville de Paris, 1998, the Compasso d'Oro, 2011, the London Design Medal, 2014, Best Designers, The Design Prize, Official Award of the City of Milan, 2017. The Bouroullec brothers' creations will be unveiled exclusively at the presentation of the Maison Matisse limited edition collection in October 2019 during the FIAC.
This series of vases retranscribes the idea of a window open to the outside, a pictorial theme often present in Matisse's work. To reconstruct the image of a window through which a landscape can be seen, terracotta, anodised aluminium and enamelled ceramics have been combined in a combination of three forms.
The anodised aluminium plate, vibrating in the light, becomes an azure sky. The window coping takes the shape of a terracotta brick. An enamelled ceramic cylinder comes to receive fresh flowers. This assembly of shapes and materials produces a vibrant whole, an interior scene open to a landscape of brilliant light.
Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec "

(1) Louis Aragon, Henri Matisse, novel, Gallimard, 1971, vol. 1, page 285
(2) Dominique Fourcade, Ecrits et propos sur l'art, Éditions Hermann 1972, page 50.
(3) Dominique Fourcade, Écrits et propos sur l'art, Éditions Hermann 1972, page 99.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
arts and cultures
Previous article

Otium #4 at the Institut d'Art Contemporain de Villeurbanne

museum of l'economy
Next article

CITÉCO, the 1st museum of economy opens in Paris

Latest articles from ARTS & CULTURES



Already registered? I'm connecting

Register and read three articles for free. Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date with the latest news.

→ Register for free to continue reading.



You have received 3 free articles to discover UP'.

Enjoy unlimited access to our content!

From $1.99 per week only.