Raw-Edges, Jasper Morrison, Patricia Urquiola and more get a theatrical backdrop

White bath tub with wooden flooring
The Musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design’s classical enclaves form the dramatic setting for its latest exhibition ’Houselife’. Pictured, the bathroom in the Salon de Gascq.
(Image credit: Courtesy of Collection Design du CNAP au Madd Bordeaux. © Madd Bordeaux – VPe)

‘No designer creates a piece of furniture just to see it shown in a museum,' says Constance Rubini, curator at Musée des Arts Décoratifs et du Design in Bordeaux. 'The objects are intended to have a life in the context of a home.' Housed within the charming Hotel de Lalande, the museum’s location is renowned for its dramatic setting for contemporary design exhibits.

Described as ‘an everyday mise-en-scene-like presentation’, the current 'Houselife' exhibition sees Rubini and co-curator Juliette Pollet decorate the aristocratic surrounds with modern collections from the Centre national des arts plastiques (CNAP).

Throughout the 18th century space, the duo have peppered rooms with pieces by a plethora of designers, including Alessandro Mendini, Naoto Fukasawa, the Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Jasper Morrison and Studio Formafantasma.

Exhibition hall with red chair and floor rug

(Image credit: press)

The company lounge

'The only "staging" that we did was to ask the perfumer Frédéric Malle and the musicians of the Bordeaux conservatory to create scents and sounds that suggest the kind of family life that could have taken place in this residence,’ Rubini explains. For example, in the 'dining room', the scent of coffee is diffused in the morning and basmati rice at lunch time.
The different dramatised chambers explore the versatility of the decadent interiors. Transforming the space entirely, a statement Philippe Starck bathtub commands the stately living room area, where Raw-Edges' ‘Stack’ storage unit and a Bouroullec Samsung Serif TV also hold court. ‘The idea was to create surprises by integrating the pieces smoothly in the existing spaces, with no clashes or disruption,’ Rubini explains of the abstract product placements.

The lounge a exhibition with an architectural polar

(Image credit: press)

The boudoir

Over in the lounge, an Andrea Branzi quote is emblazoned across a mirror: ‘Design is nothing more than a setting, a way of materialising a certain idea of the universe, a way to create a new imaginary realm.’ Here, tones of red underline all, with a tomato-hued ‘Méridiennes Yang’ sofa by François Bauchet and Patricia Urquiola’s ‘Fjord’ lounger standing out. Elsewhere in the room, Alessi daily essentials by Naoto Fuksawa and an indoor plant filtration device by Mathieu Lehanneur are uncannily paired with a classical harp that centres the Renaissance space.

Elsewhere, Rubini and Pollet add a new dimension to the exhibition with an architectural polar-opposite – Rem Koolhaas’ Maison Lemoine. The products that are placed in this modern domestic space are cleaner, more Scandinavian silhouettes. ‘Here the choice was made more according to the characteristics of the architecture itself,’ Rubini muses.

Room with open wooden shelve grey stool with wooden flooring

Raw-Edges' 'Stack' storage system and the Bouroullecs' Samsung Serif TV are abstract additions to the bathroom

(Image credit: press)

The home office room with plywood desk and table lamp

The office in the Cruse Guestier salon featuring 'Lampe de table W103b', by Inga Sempé, 2011–2012; a 2005 Apple Ordinateur iMac G5 Combo; and Jasper Morrison's 'Bureau Plywood' desk, 1985–1986

(Image credit: press)

Chaise Clay Furniture with red sofa and chair

'Chaise Clay Furniture' by Maarten Baas, 2011; and François Bauchet's 'Méridiennes Yang' sofa from 2001, in the company lounge

(Image credit: press)

The lounge with red chair and floor rug

The company salon also sees a classic harp placed amid the contemporary pieces, with an Andrea Branzi quote etched onto the mirror

(Image credit: press)

Grey coloured hanging armchair with floor curtains

The curators also conceived a domestic setting at Rem Koolhaas’ Maison Lemoine, gathering 60 pieces including Finnish designer Eero Aarnio's 'Bubble' armchair

(Image credit: Eero Aarnio)

Left, 'Oggetto banale and right installation view of 'Houselife

Left, ’Oggetto banale’, by Alessandro Mendini. ­ Jean­ Christophe Garcia. Right, installation view of ’Houselife’, at Maison Lemoine

(Image credit: Left, Courtesy of Madd Bordeaux, Right, Courtesy of Colombe Rubini)


’Houselife’ is on view until 29 January 2017. For more information, visit the Musée des Arts Décoratifs et du Design website


Musée des Arts Décoratifs et du Design
39 rue Bouffard
33 000 Bordeaux


Sujata Burman is a writer and editor based in London, specialising in design and culture. She was Digital Design Editor at Wallpaper* before moving to her current role of Head of Content at London Design Festival and London Design Biennale where she is expanding the content offering of the showcases. Over the past decade, Sujata has written for global design and culture publications, and has been a speaker, moderator and judge for institutions and brands including RIBA, D&AD, Design Museum and Design Miami/. In 2019, she co-authored her first book, An Opinionated Guide to London Architecture, published by Hoxton Mini Press, which was driven by her aim to make the fields of design and architecture accessible to wider audiences.