Mar 2007
Enrico Morteo

Jean Nouvel is an architect, he thinks like an architect, he designs like an architect. Even when his working on objects on a 1:1 scale, his designs keep all the clarity of a structural creation.
The partnership between the French architect and UniFor began in 1994 when they worked together on the Cartier Foundation in Paris. It has continued to develop following the lines of explicit lightness and extreme design precision.

In his work on the table Less, the first of a whole system of office furnishings, Nouvel concentrated on reducing materials and forms to the minimum: only metal and minimal section profiles.

His approach is almost conceptual but gives nothing away to minimalist formalism. Every possibility of a material is explored: while the L-shaped legs have resistant profiles, the top is made of sheet which is profiled according to pressure diagrams: in this way the section along the edges is reduced to a minimum, thickening only towards the central part of the table.

The same lightness is evident in the design of the desks and bookshelves: airy, essential structures of minimal visual weight. Even when designing a column container, a cupboard, Nouvel takes the volume apart and divides it into light surfaces. The cupboard is placed on a rotating base and has an unusual system for opening the doors – rotation and sideways movement – which dematerialises the fullness of the cupboard’s mass.

The Less collection has grown over the years thanks also to other contributions, and is now a complete system: table, desk, cupboard, bookcase, chest of drawers, IT trolley. A catalogue of items
which can satisfy all the needs of the modern office. Discipline and functional efficiency. An architectural landscape made up of simple elements and essential structures. An elegant, precise portrait of the modern work culture.

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