What inspires me with Martin Massé

Martin Massé is a Parisian architect and designer whose star is on the rise. His timeless style combines the tradition of French craftsmanship with a contemporary design sense resulting in interiors and furniture that are monumental and sculptural in feel.  Not only is he a sought-after architect and interior designer, but his furniture collections are also praised for their originality and impeccable quality and are always included in the Best-of-the-Best lists. Martin is a strong supporter of highlighting the exceptional know-how of French craftsmen and by using noble materials for his furniture designs they bring to life his bold visions. The recent cover of the March issue of Architectural Digest showcased this. His exquisite Marta 07 table, crafted by Ateliers Saint-Jacques, was the star of the cover. We were thrilled to interview him and find out what inspires him – from ancient Italian architecture to science fiction films – and how he is always on the search for excellence and know-how in the craftsmen that he works with which is music to our ears. Martin Massé is one to watch.

Before starting your own design firm in 2017, you worked for Joseph Dirand, Tristan Auer, and Jean-Michel Wilmotte. How did each of these designers influence your development as a designer?

After I completed my degree in architecture, I had the opportunity to join the design offices of Joseph Dirand and then Wilmotte & Associates. These experiences confirmed my choice and the specialization I wanted to take when creating my own design agency. Working with these two firms allowed me to discover projects of various scales and to be confronted with different problems. More precisely, the relationship we had with the exceptional craftsmen during the realization of Joseph’s projects fascinated me. My first motivation was to be able to continue to work with this type of craftsman in the framework of projects or creations of collections of furniture while having total freedom of creation.

When you develop new projects, where do you get your inspiration?

I don’t have a favorite theme or medium of inspiration. I draw a lot of inspiration from architecture when creating my furniture collections. I sometimes use furniture details as models for my architectural projects. I am interested in sculpture, art in general, and cinema which are also great sources of inspiration.

You work with noble and carefully selected materials. What are the reasons for this choice?

I work most often with simple, playful, and easy-to-grasp shapes. I like to give them a certain sophistication through their materiality. It’s quite exciting to be able to have craftsmen work in the tradition of the decorative arts with precious materials that are often retro but are put to use in contemporary designs.

Your work has a sculptural aspect to it. Are you influenced by classical Italian architecture as you integrate Romanesque proportions and geometric lines into a contemporary aesthetic? 

My training was more architectural than design-oriented even though the disciplines overlap. I conceive of my furniture collections as small buildings and therefore I am inspired by several architectural currents such as Roman antiquity, the Art Deco movement, and Post-Modernism. I like things to be legible in terms of balance and construction. Perhaps I borrow this from Romanesque art because of its massive aspect, leaving more “fulls” than voids, and certainly in my repeated choice of the semi-circular arch in certain details. I travel a lot in Italy and I lived in Rome for a while during my studies and because of this the ancient Italian architecture continues to be for me a real reference in terms of proportions and balance.

In your work you champion the exceptional know-how of French craftsmanship.  Why is this important to you?

First of all, it is a search for excellence and know-how. I have been working with the workshops at Ateliers Saint-Jacques and Jouffre since the beginning of my career and I am always impressed by their ability to bring my drawings to life. I appreciate their involvement, their motivation, and their attention to detail. I learn a lot from them and their know-how feeds my practice daily.  I also want to promote these skills which I think are too little represented today.

Congratulations on your beautiful Marta 07 table that was featured on the cover of the March 2022 issue of Architectural Digest!  Can you tell us more about the creation of this table?

Thank you ! This table is part of my Marta collection which is clearly inspired by the curved and tapered lines of the Art Deco movement seen in NYC. It is made by the talented marble workers at Ateliers Saint-Jacques. A big thank you to the Kolkhoze Gallery and to Thibaut Van Den Bergh who made this exceptional sale possible.

There is a poetic dimension to your work in which you create an atmospheric and sophisticated setting.  Are you influenced by certain films or books?

I am very much inspired by the atmosphere and settings in the cinema, especially in Science Fiction, but also by comics, Manga, etc.

Is there a project you particularly enjoyed working on?

I really enjoyed working on the renovation of a 600 sq meter Parisian apartment with Joseph Dirand, where we were lucky enough to have no budget and above all to be able to design a large part of the custom furniture.

Is there a type of project that you enjoy the most?

I like to be able to work on small-scale projects that allow me to think of architecture, space, and furniture as an individual whole.  I am currently working on a Villa in Marrakech that brings together these different scales and I think this type of exercise remains for me the most interesting challenge in our profession.

To discover Martin’s projects please click here