Vital cell

Vital cell, 2017
artist's room of the hotel Le Cambronne
Le Voyage à Nantes, 2017

In keeping with the principle of the free plan – founded by Le Corbusier and developed in the design world by Italian designer Ettore Sottsass and his 1970s-era functional models – Simon Thiou attempts to materialize a utopian lifestyle for Hôtel Le Cambronne, where every daily vital function is placed in its own “container.”

The defining moment for these reflections on the evolution of the domestic environment appeared in 1972, during the seminal exhibition, Italy: The New Domestic Landscape at the MOMA in New York, where Italian designers proposed new ways of living through utopian environments.
For that show, Ettore Sottsass produced a series of living spaces, each of which were compartmentalized in a series of containers. The furniture – a shower, bathroom, wardrobe, a reading room, a jukebox, a library – were all placed on wheels, and the objective was to create modular elements that could combine with one another.

Beyond the functional and utilitarian aspects of this design, it also offered a new way of living – one that was relaxed and nomadic, and able to transform as society evolved.

Simon Thiou saw his room at Hôtel Le Cambronne as a blank page upon which he could elaborate his thinking about domestic environments.
Thiou adapts this idea of Utopia (etymologically, “no place”) to a real space – a hotel room, which is precisely that: an often impersonal space that one simply passes through. For one night, he thus offers the experience of a truly vital space.

The only images present are three lithograph prints of monoliths interspersed throughout the space. These photos – which look like stones and are, themselves, printed using a lithographic stone – remain enigmatic.

Treat the room as a free plan and adapt it any way you like.
Move the modules, each of which contain one or several functions, and lay them out however suits you best.
Electrical outlets are placed at regular intervals throughout the room for you to plug in any of the units that need them.

To materialize your experience of the Cellule Vitale, Simon Thiou designed the room and its furniture elements in shades of black and grey. Like with a cave, in an environment conducive to introspection, perhaps you will be encouraged to imagine new ways of thinking and dreaming…

Jenna Darde