Franklin Azzi, the Insatiable

Franklin Azzi, the Insatiable

Both in the Glasgow School of Art and in his agency, Franklin Azzi has advocated interdisciplinarity. Architects, designers, decorators, computer graphics designers, art historians and former students from the Ecole Normale: the people whom he works with have their passion as a common point. And they need it to enter his prestigious office, rue d’Uzès. It is an industrial studio of 700 square meters where the genius architect – some people say he is the new Jean Nouvel – can devote himself to his projects, at the crossroads of disciplines and new ideas, while actively participating to the spread of contemporary arts. His agency dedicates an exhibitation per year to it, while collaborating on large-scale projects with artists. It is a clear craving that makes him dream. He is also caught wanting to think and to redesign daily objects, and even places with a strong family or religious meaning. In that aspect, Franklin Azzi is anything but a beginner. Paris ows him the redevelopment of the banks of the Seine. Yes, 2.5 km of an exceptionnal promenade on the left side, between Orsay museum and the Quai Branly. A lot of people consider it is a renewal, which unblocks and refreshes this UNESCO heritage site. Since September, the students of the Nantes School of Fine Arts, based on the former Alstom site, can also say “thank you” to him. Their school follow in the footsteps of many buildings, designer shops, and restaurants, as his latest challenge. Meanwhile, Beaupassage, which brings together a number of culinary destinations owned by some of the finest chefs, is about to open. On a 100,000 square-metre site at 53-57 Rue de Grenelle where he took over the refurbishment works. A gigantic site dedicated to everything that goodness, beauty and joie de vivre, which that we can’t wait to experience for ourselves.

Entrée Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte
Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte
Entrée Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte

Franklin, how would you define yourself?

Franklin

I am a great maniac!

Can you define your style?

Franklin

It is hard to tell. I am part of a generation that makes hybrid worlds, from all those of our predecessors. It is like an exquisite corpse. I like the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and even the 90’s. I am currently rediscovering Ettore Sottsass and the Memphis movement. Our style is hard to define, because the only way to have new things is hybridisation.

Who do you work with?

Franklin

I work with passionate people by what they are doing. Most of them have learnt by my side. The team grew as a whole, and what makes its strength, the reason why it is different is the diversity of the profiles: there are designers, graphic designers, computer graphics designers, architects, decorators, art historian, and former students from Ecole Normale…

How did you think your workshop?

Franklin

My workshop is on the place of the Uzès hotel, transformed by Ledoux in 1767. In 1870, it was knocked down. Industrial buildings were then built on this same plot, in only one time. This workshop was the storage place of the clothing making company Marcel Boussac, that worked with Christian Dior for instance. We kept the original furniture, that were used to look the fabric samples under natural light. These industrial premises of 700 square meters give us a work frame, with great ceiling heights, that for example enable to test the scales of different objects and prototypes we make. This industrial world matches with our discipline.

Ascenseur Entrée Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte
Livres Inspiration Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte
Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte
Livre In Out Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte
Sièges de Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte

Was decoration important to you?

Franklin

I make the difference between my personal world and my work. My home is very decorated. In the agency, I wanted a pure atmosphere that would be less personal. We really focus on durability, efficiency, and the permanence of the objects we use. There is turn-over, so the idea is to work on objects so they last.

What does you career look like?                   

Franklin

There are two important things in my career. First, the fact I studied at the Glasgow School of Art, that has the particularity of having all disciplines meeting, before the Bauhaus. I learned to draw both in the car industrial design department and in the fashion and fashion design department. What is great in this school, and since the beginning, is the importance of crafts. It is an icon of Arts & Crafts, and this marks my production. Another fundamental influence is, of course, my teacher Paul Virilio, who determined my work method.

Which project did challenge you the most?

Franklin

It is Nantes School of Fine Arts. It is a project particularly technical, a meeting of all norms, which is at the same time a very poetical and abstract project. It is about the conversion of the Alstom covered market on Nantes island. It is the project for which the agency has done the more researches and developments these last years. I also think of Isabel Marant’s boutique in Los Angeles and Jérôme Dreyfuss in London – for the complexity of the spaces and the researches of materials.

Why do you wear this white overall?

Franklin

Because I never stop knocking something up, all day long. The overall helps me to think a little, and if I don’t wear it, I stain all my clothes. And above all, I like uniforms. Just like Martin Margiela!

Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte
Portrait Franklin Azzi Créateur Franklin Azzi Architecture
Déco Malles Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte
Plan de Travail Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte
Salle de Travail Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte

How does your agency contribute to spread contemporary art?

Franklin

Our agency rue d’Uzès organizes and welcomes one contemporary art exhibition a year. We should ideally do more! Among the artists whose works are exhibited in the agency, there is the Wasistas collective, with the Sperling family and the photographer and video maker Sebastian Stumpf and Charles Petit. I also develop collaborations with artists, such as Tatiana Trouvé, with the Desire Lines project in New York and Barangaroo in Sydney. When the creative wants a big-scale project, it is almost architecture. So, as an architect, I am here to solve the problems of reducing wind resistance, foundations, and durability of the materials for a situation in particular. Moreover, since recently, I have been collecting: paintings from the 60’s to the 80’s, especially Op Art.

What do you want to achieve with your agency?

Franklin

I have built elsewhere a lot for French brands, so now I would like a foreign brand to call us! I also want to build a factory with a complicated process, draw a boat, daily objects and for tableware, but also places of worship, maybe a family vault or a church.

You work both on public and private projects. What’s the difference between those two?

Franklin

In public projects, the people are not the same between the beginning and the end: it can change 4 times! (I hope they don’t read these lines). So the memory of the project is often lost and it is quite complicated. On the other hand, the picture of it is often true to the achievement. In private projects, it is partnerships with developers. Decisions are made faster, but the project changes a lot more. It is different from the private individuals’ projects, that we don’t do a lot, except if the house project interests us because of the geography of the site or the intelligence of the project.

On which type of projects do you prefer to work?

Franklin

Equal !

Entrée Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte
Échantillons Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte
Chaise Table Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte
Portrait Franklin Azzi Créateur Architecte
Entrée Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte

What does inspire you? Who are you thought leaders/icons?

Franklin

For architecture, Paul Virilio, Claude Parent, Jean Prouvé and Marcel Gascoin. For music, LCD Sound System and Glenn Gould. For painting, Geneviève Claisse, Olivier Deblé, and Edgar Pillet, who worked on the MAME plant, that we just renovated. It is a fascinating work from the 50’s, since he painted frescos in the flows and the production workshops of the factory. As I wish to be as complete as possible, I’d say Lacan for psychoanalyse, Peter Greenaway, Frank Capra – especially Life Is Beautiful -, Terry Gilliam, Riddley Scott for cinema. For series, True Detective inspires me. For literature, James Ellroy, Bret Easton Ellis, Jay McInerney. And finally, Thomas Ruff for photography.

Do you have a particular creation process?

Franklin

I get my inspiration from pictures. I am insatiable or a collector. Google Images is, for me, a real working tool at the origin of every creation process. Average, common, without an art dimension and will: my iconography is composed of objects for information only.

Can you quote one or several places which inspire you, in Paris or elsewhere?

Franklin

The Cabanon by Le Corbusier is a place I go to from time to time. It is my place of pilgrimage not to forget what simplicity is.

How did you choose the furniture of your office?

Franklin

I like the modularity and ingenuity of the USM furniture, which I think is timeless. Most of the tables are from Eiermann by Sentou, Charles Eames for the aluminium chairs. The watchwords are durability, permanence, and functionality. And military. I like the furniture from the Swiss army, that were very well designed. We also have first aid kits from the French army to put out pens in when we leave the office. The military objects are perfect objects since they were mass-produced, so there is no default! It captivates me!

Plan de Travail Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte
Ascenceur Entrée Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte
Holiday Magazine Bureau Franklin Azzi Architecte
Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Portrait Franklin Azzi Architecte
Fiole Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Franklin Azzi Architecte
Bureau Rue D'Uzès Paris Portrait Franklin Azzi Architecte

Deco inspiration...

Garnier and Linker, Experts of the Materials

Garnier and Linker, Experts of the Materials

They show us materials we had forgotten about. Guillaume Garnier and Florent Linker are creators. Skilled men who play with rare savoir-faire they reinterpret in a contemporary way. Their studio is a place for testing and developing. Their skilled...

You may also like

Aucun comment

Add your comment

Be the First to Know

Captured Moments. Interiors. Personalities. Every week, just for you.