Jogging Samena, <br>A Philosophy of Humility

Jogging Samena,
A Philosophy of Humility

Emerging from the immaculate rocks bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Jogging Samena warms itself under the Marseille sun. A former remnant of the industrial site of Samena which later became a cottage, it’s now available as a rental and an artist’s residence. Long abandoned, what was once a modest family residence has been restored by Olivier Amsellem with the intent of preserving the various layers of time. Acquired in 2015 at the same time as Jogging – a concept store co-founded by the Marseille native – this project took more time to take shape. Five years, to be exact. “It’s about reflection and observation,” confides this child of the HLMs, who needed to appropriate cottage culture for the occasion. Weathered by the sea spray, the mistral and tanned by the sun, this building, located barely 50 metres from the crystalline Samena Cove, is the conservator of a Mediterranean past. Brought back to life with the help of “shabby” materials, most of which were already present on site (such as wood, steel and terracotta), this private address navigates between tradition and contemporaneity. To do this, the Marseille native has done away with the archaic layout of this pavilion by making the decision to divert 10 m2 of living space into the creation of two patios. A conscious choice, guided by the desire to celebrate the art of outdoor living so dear to the region where it originated. Wishing, above all, to “respect the place” for its true value, the entrepreneur was also keen on preserving the bare bones of its faded walls. This humility is reminiscent of the Italian Arte Povera and is punctuated by artists’ creations and rare antique objects that keep in mind the philosophy behind the development of these popular habitats, i.e. “bringing back what we find and what is no longer useful to the city”. A raw, sincere and inspiring return to recovery.

Jogging Samena, Boulevard de la Calanque de Samena – 13008 Marseille. Rentals from €200 per night (minimum stay two nights). Breakfast service for €25 (two people). Reservations can be made on the website www.joggingjogging.com.

Cour extérieure chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Cour extérieure avec plantes chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Pot en terre cuite avec plante grasse chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Cour extérieure avec table en bois et plantes chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Pots en terre cuite et plantes grasses dans la cour extérieure à Jogging Samena à Marseille
Vue sur la terrasse extérieure depuis Jogging Samena à Marseille

Olivier, we’re meeting you here at Jogging Samena. One of the extensions of the world you have created at Jogging, your concept store. Can you introduce us to the place, please?

Olivier

Samena is the story of how to reinstate a ruin. When I bought this place, it was full of family history. The last of the poor families who were lucky enough to enjoy this property came together here. There was a counter with a huge mirror, like a bar, in fact. It was a bit of a mess, to say the least! Nothing made sense, so much so that the shack itself was a work of art. I stayed a long time drinking it in, cogitating about it, not really knowing what to do with it. Then one day, the verdict was in: the flat roof was in bad shape. It had to be totally removed, so I decided to do the same with all the excess stuff that had been piled up there for years. So, a sort of clean slate when it came to things, but not taking away any history, the layers of which I tried very carefully to preserve. People say – and this is the best part – that the place is emotionally charged. For two years, however, it was a roofless ruin that caught the wind and the spray from the sea a few metres away. It was already a bit like its former owner, who had lived there all his life until he died. That was the first thing that came to my mind. “This wouldn’t be a bad place to end up.” At that time, I was poor, and this place was as poverty-stricken as I was. The early days of Jogging were years of hardship; we lived on very little. This may shock people, but I have only been paying myself a salary for four months. With the bad weather I mentioned earlier, this place has, so to speak, been “washed clean of its past”. That’s when I had the idea of restoring the ruin, but not just any old way. I researched the site and its background, and I wanted to respect the heritage of those who had lived there. Of all these generations of people from Marseille. It is also a completely new adventure for me. Cabanons, little shacks like this, were not part of my culture. As a child in social housing, I never had access to these buildings, and we had no friends who had them. To tell you the truth, we didn’t go to the sea much. I had to learn to swim very late. So I was going into something I didn’t know about.

How did owning this place come about?

Olivier

It was very sudden. I saw it and, I said OK without even knowing how I could do it. It was a time in my life when I was less well and full of questions. Not many people know this, but Samena came in 2015. The same year as Jogging, yes, but it took me five years of reflection and observation. I didn’t want to get it wrong.

Clés chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Salle à manger avec table en bois chez Jogging Samena à Marseille

Samena is the story of how to reinstate a ruin. When I bought this place, it was full of family history.

Illustration et table métallique chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Planches à découper en bois chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Salle à manger chez Jogging Samena à Marseille

What was your desire/philosophy behind it?

Olivier

The desire for humility above all, for tradition, and following the philosophy of always respecting the place, the history and the heritage. Samena is an industrial site. So I decided to bring in materials as poor as the dwelling itself, like concrete, steel, terracotta and wood. “Poor but strong” is my philosophy.

Who did you work with to design the Samena Jogging experience?

Olivier

Last year, Erika Blu and David Mijoba were the only chefs to offer dinners where the idea was to invite 20 people like you would at home. For this, I needed solid people to understand me, people who knew all about Jogging. Erika – who recently ran the Jacquemus showroom – is Italian like my family. The first time she set foot in Samena, she felt like she was at home in Italy. For David – the Venezuelan chef – it was all about fish and the sea. Finally, Christian Qui, a wizard with a bouillabaisse, the poorest dish in the Mediterranean culture, certainly the one that best identifies with the site.

You speak of a work of “humility” instead of a work of architecture or decoration. Please tell us what this involved.

Olivier

It meant respecting the poor and eliminating anything that might be ornamental or invasive. To achieve this, I gave up 15 m2 to give more space to the outside. I can boast that I bought 75 m2 and now have 60 m2! I must be alone in the cove.

What ‘poor’ materials – already present on the site – did you use to renovate the site?

Olivier

Wood, concrete, brick: no one knows what this place was like before. Perhaps a gatehouse for the industrial site? Strangely with a flat roof (quite rare for the time), it was divided in two. My neighbours preferred to have the luxury of an attic bedroom with a skylight so you can look out to sea when you stick your head out! My family and friends encouraged me to make a roof terrace, but I had too much respect for the place. A staircase had to be designed, the garden had to be reduced… and all this for what? To be at a height of four metres with the neighbours behind you to see the sunset and the sea… That wasn’t the story, so I decided and said: “those who want to see the sea will climb the hill opposite, 10 metres from the shack!”.

Vue en perspective sur la salle de bain chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Illustration chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Miroir et cadre photo chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Olivier Amsellem devant le buffet blanc chez Jogging Samena à Marseille Buffet blanc chiné chez Jogging Samena à Marseille

I researched the site and its background, and I wanted to respect the heritage of those who had lived there.

Plafond en bois chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Chaise en bois chinée et table rouge chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Livres et magazines chez Jogging Samena à Marseille

You like hunting for bargains wherever you go. Tell us about some of your finds that you have here.

Olivier

It’s a mixture of rustic and modern, contemporary and antique. I haven’t lost sight of the fact that the development of a shack like this is above all about bringing back what you find and what is no longer of use to the city. So I followed the same approach – except that it’s also an artist’s residence! So you have a twisted metal floor lamp by Thomas Mailaender, but also a contemporary creation by Marina Bautier for the oak wardrobe in the bedroom. Apart from that, we find Enzo Mari, Vico Magistretti, lamps by Atelier Gras, a desk chair by Jean-René Caillette, a Tolix desk table and the mystical signature piece – a Virgin Mary with no hands, found in Avignon, a witness to everything that happens down here.

In addition to being available for rent, this house also serves as a residence for artists developing, producing and exhibiting with Jogging. Why is art so important to you and your concept?

Olivier

It’s the range of possibilities. It was never my intention to have a hotel room or, worse, an Airbnb! But artists are able to give things a dimension, and if the material is there and can give them an impetus, an inspiration, then that’s wonderful.

Have you thought of other ways to enliven this place?

Olivier

We are already doing quite a lot with Jogging, and we intend to give our projects even more depth! But we’ll keep it to ourselves if you don’t mind (Laughs). We were one of the first residences set up in this territory since 2015; we want to maintain a bit of mystery.

After the concept store, the grocery shop and the shack, what other developments could you imagine for Jogging to continue exploring all its facets?

Olivier

We are satisfied with what we have, but there is still much to do and create! Other approaches will be needed, other territories, other stories to tell.

Statuette vierge chinée chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Chambre double chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Baignoire vintage chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Vases vintages chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Salle de bain avec baignoire chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Plantes vertes chez Jogging Samena à Marseille
Vue sur les collines depuis Jogging Samena à Marseille

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