VIA: 30 Years of Furniture Design

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January 29, 2010

For 30 years, the Valorisation de L’Innovation dans l’Ameublement, affectionately known as VIA, has promoted contemporary, innovative furniture design with economical and eco-friendly projects by new talent. “We have a very important action to reveal French designers,” explains Gérard Laizé, executive director of the company. Through its impetus to finance projects based in both technical research and creativity, VIA aims to connect manufacturers, designers and retailers. Laizé teamed up with the widely recognized Paris modern art museum, Centre Pompidou, to create Via Design 3.0, an exhibit highlighting the company’s history of modern design for the home. To coincide with the show's last weekend, contributing writer Suzy Evans shares the history behind a few of the pieces on view.

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  An homage to the medallion Louis XVI chair, Delo Lindo's 1992 "Butterfly" chair merges traditional wood with fluorescent green translucid methacrylate. © D. Feintrenie
    An homage to the medallion Louis XVI chair, Delo Lindo's 1992 "Butterfly" chair merges traditional wood with fluorescent green translucid methacrylate. © D. Feintrenie
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  Made entirely of wood, Saleem Bhatri's 2004 table “Right in-tension” appears simple but his genius rests in the details. Bhatri cut the plank width ways to create a stress point and increased the material's resistance by triangulation. The design showcases the wood's quality and is also more economical to produce. © Fillioux&Fillioux
    Made entirely of wood, Saleem Bhatri's 2004 table “Right in-tension” appears simple but his genius rests in the details. Bhatri cut the plank width ways to create a stress point and increased the material's resistance by triangulation. The design showcases the wood's quality and is also more economical to produce. © Fillioux&Fillioux
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  Mathieu Lehanneur’s 2006 “diffuseur de bruit blanc,” or white noise diffuser, works autonomously and moves according to the noise level. Part of the Elements series, the “dB” changes the relationship between the home environment and the user. © V. Huygue
    Mathieu Lehanneur’s 2006 “diffuseur de bruit blanc,” or white noise diffuser, works autonomously and moves according to the noise level. Part of the Elements series, the “dB” changes the relationship between the home environment and the user. © V. Huygue
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  Made of polyurethane foam, Gaetano Pesce's 1981 bibliothèque, or bookcase, exemplifies VIA's desire to fund and produce unexpected projects. Pesce made the item with a single mold in two parts. © DR
    Made of polyurethane foam, Gaetano Pesce's 1981 bibliothèque, or bookcase, exemplifies VIA's desire to fund and produce unexpected projects. Pesce made the item with a single mold in two parts. © DR
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  Designer Erwan Bouroullec redefined the living space by creating a project that is simultaneously a private area and a furniture item. The "Lit Clos," or closed bed, is easily mountable, and the Bouroullec found inspiration for the piece in the Brittany region of northwestern France. It was created in 2000. © M. le Gall
    Designer Erwan Bouroullec redefined the living space by creating a project that is simultaneously a private area and a furniture item. The "Lit Clos," or closed bed, is easily mountable, and the Bouroullec found inspiration for the piece in the Brittany region of northwestern France. It was created in 2000. © M. le Gall
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  In 1982 Philippe Starck won VIA's second Carte Blanche award, a grant given to a forward-thinking project by a promising designer, with his "Don Denny" chair. Later, this famous chair appeared in the Café Costes.  Starck was a key figure in VIA's history, and the Pompidou exhibit pays special tribute to him. He re-designed the VIA office and gallery in the Place Sainte-Opportune, which opened in 1986. © DR Archives
    In 1982 Philippe Starck won VIA's second Carte Blanche award, a grant given to a forward-thinking project by a promising designer, with his "Don Denny" chair. Later, this famous chair appeared in the Café Costes. Starck was a key figure in VIA's history, and the Pompidou exhibit pays special tribute to him. He re-designed the VIA office and gallery in the Place Sainte-Opportune, which opened in 1986. © DR Archives
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  Olivier Peyricot conceived these "Cales humaines," or body props, in 2002 as extensions of the body, encouraging different resting positions. He was looking for "foam with the same density as flesh" so he collaborated with Asklé Santé Company, which designs mattresses to reduce bed sores. © Theunen
    Olivier Peyricot conceived these "Cales humaines," or body props, in 2002 as extensions of the body, encouraging different resting positions. He was looking for "foam with the same density as flesh" so he collaborated with Asklé Santé Company, which designs mattresses to reduce bed sores. © Theunen
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  Pierre Sala's 1985 bureau pour enfant "Clairefontaine,” child’s desk, comprises 625 blank sheets of paper, and two thousand prototypes sold in the four months following the release. Sala designed an entire collection in the same style. © DR Archives
    Pierre Sala's 1985 bureau pour enfant "Clairefontaine,” child’s desk, comprises 625 blank sheets of paper, and two thousand prototypes sold in the four months following the release. Sala designed an entire collection in the same style. © DR Archives
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  Frederic Ruyant’s "Bloc Bartable" combines typically independent items:  a bar-partition, table, chair and magazine rack. The project won Carte Blanche in 2003 and allows many options for spatial lay out in the home. © Fillioux&Fillioux
    Frederic Ruyant’s "Bloc Bartable" combines typically independent items: a bar-partition, table, chair and magazine rack. The project won Carte Blanche in 2003 and allows many options for spatial lay out in the home. © Fillioux&Fillioux
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  François Azambourg patented his 1999 "flexible sandwich" of wood ply and foam, used to make this chair and ottoman. The ergonomic material represents VIA's mission to promote original combinations of traditional materials. © Fillioux&Fillioux
    François Azambourg patented his 1999 "flexible sandwich" of wood ply and foam, used to make this chair and ottoman. The ergonomic material represents VIA's mission to promote original combinations of traditional materials. © Fillioux&Fillioux

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