Text by Keely Shinners
Design is important because it reinvigorates our everyday objects with new life. A good designer does not just make a bed; he makes a bed into a crucifix made out of sot polyurethane. A good architect does not just redesign a basement; he turns the basement into a drugstore/nightclub. We are speaking of the multi-talented architect and artist François Dallegret. The French-born, Montreal-based designer studied architecture at the famous Beaux-Arts in Paris before he tired of their strict, conformist imaginations of what spaces and objects might look like. Since the 60s, Dallegret has been experimenting with futuristic and imaginative concepts and materials, creating multifunctional furniture, strange machines, walking cakes, jumping spheres, electrical and inflated garments, and more. On the occasion of the architect's latest exhibition in Los Angeles, here are ten of his most whimsical and fantastic creations:
1. LIT CROIX
Dallegret made the "Cross Bed" in 1977 out of soft polyurethane plastic material as part of a series for his creative company God & Co.
2. LE DRUG, A PHARMACY/NIGHTCLUB
After becoming bored of the conformist Parisian architecture scene of the early sixties, Dallegret left for New York and then onto Montreal. There, the owners of a chain of pharmacies commissioned a young Dallegret to design and build a café-bar underneath one of their stores. For Le Drug, Dallegret enveloped the harsh solidity of the basement walls with a surreal, white plastic overcoat, creating the illusion of a single, continuous surface throughout. The project was dismantled after two years for the expense of its maintenance; one can only wash the black scuffs off an all-white plastic dance floor for so long.
3. LE CHAISSE RESSORT
Despite its rigid and static visage, the Chaise Ressort is immaculately designed to react and adjust to the sitter's weight and posture. To lie in the Ressort ("spring" en français) is to feel weightless, "like an astronaut in a lunar module."
4. COSTUMES FOR A TV WESTERN
Dallegret served as the art director and designer for the short-lived "2020 West," a comedy-adventure about a man who roams a futuristic American West. Dallegret, in charge of set design, costumes, and presentation photography, created a strange, half-nostalgic, half-science fiction world, "rich, alive, and animated." Production for the television program was never finished.
5. LA CHAISE ENCEINTE
The "Pregnant Chair" was made in Montreal in 1965, and was recently exhibited for its whimsy and innovation at the Architectural Association Gallery in London.
6. COURBE FRANÇAISE
The "French Curve" reflects the shape and design of the Stade de Taillibert, as well as le Mât, constructed just before the Olympics in 1976, and is perhaps a commentary on the exponential costs of those architectural feats.
Out of a chromed plastic helmet, metal pipes, corks, and a motor, a 27-year-old Dallgret created this strange machine/toy to walk in slow, turtle-like fashion across the room, simply by a twist of the button on its back.
8. THIS COMMUNICATION DEVICE
The Atomiseur is a mold for a flag mast cap in solidified glass powder, becoming a simulation device for idealizing communication
9. KIIK, A STRESS REDUCTION HAND PILL
The advertisement for "Kiik" reads, "KiiK is a unique, functional product to help cure body discomforts and mind obsessions. This hand pill is recommended for breaking all habits ‘bad or good.' Use it to stop smoking or start drinking." KiiK was a prototype by Dallegret for one of three 17 foot long elements in a project for a children’s playground at the University of Chicago for architect Walter Netsch.
10. TUBULA, A RACECAR MADE OF AIR DUCTS
Tubula is an "Automobile Immobile" made from aluminum tubing found in air ducts, slipped together. The "automobiles" came in blue, silver, and gold.