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Getting to know Jean Nouvel

At the Salone Internazionale del Mobile last April, Italian company EMU launched its new MIA stackable chair collection designed by French architect and designer Jean Nouvel. The stacking metal chairs, which can easily be hooked over the table when cleaning the floor, are made of flat metal bars for the frame and laser-cut aluminium for the back in seat. Mia is available in white, red, grey or black.

Intrigued by this innovative approach and eager to learn more about Mia, we met with Mr Nouvel in Milan.

How did the idea for the Mia collection come about?

Designing another chair is probably the most difficult exercise I know. I was looking to create an archetypal outdoor chair, something that could become a contemporary reference, like XIXe century chairs in historical public gardens. The next opening of the restaurant of RBC Design Centre in Montpellier for Franck Argentin has been for me the pretext of this new investigation.

Is this your first outdoor project?

 I already designed a collection of furniture for the public Poblenou Parc. The idea behind that project was to amplify the effects of lights and shadows, created by the light filtering through the aluminium seats. Mia is very different. It reminds me of a construction game, a combination of sticks that creates an ideogram in a way. It’s an easy, smiling chair. It looks, and actually is, very comfortable and inviting and I bet that, especially the armchair, will become rapidly a must, not only for outdoor spaces, but also indoor, in both domestic or public contexts.

How did you get in contact with EMU?

 Emu has been incredibly efficient. At the start I almost didn’t believe that we could work and succeed to develop a product in such a short time. A chair I recently developed for the brasserie Moritz in Barcelona took me 15 years, and dozens of prototypes to succeed. That’s why I’m always afraid of reinventing a chair. Emu understood quickly this radical project and our desire for perfection that, we hope, will make Mia a best-seller.

How much of your style as an architect is in Mia?

 In every design project that I undertake, whatever the size is, I look for a concept and a specificity. It seems to me that Mia has a strong and happy character, which will guarantee its success.

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