matali crasset


2002 - 2003

The commission

Unless there is a resurgence of interest in pigeon fancying among new generations, a tradition is destined to disappear. Keeping carrier pigeons as a means of natural communication is nonetheless a challenge in the face of contemporary technologies. In order to encourage new people to take up the hobby, while at the same time preserving the quality of a renowned breeding stock, the Beauvois pigeon fanciers' association wished to commission a contemporary artist to design a new prototype pigeon loft which would combine aesthetic appeal, functionality and a pedagogic dimension. This initiative met with a favourable reception from those in charge of the Caudry leisure park, engaged on the huge enterprise of recreating a natural environment (native species, lagoon zone, ecological reserve) which has disappeared as a result of over-intensive farming in the Cambrésis area.

The artwork

Keen to ally tradition and modernity in what she creates, matali crasset designed a capsule shape for the prototype, referring to the pigeon lofts recorded from the early days of Ancient Egypt. The internal structure, from which the positioning of the various functional spaces can be organized, is reminiscent of that of a tree, the natural resting place of winged creatures, an axis mundi linking earth and sky. The external shell, a protective envelope between interior and exterior, hints at a secret world to be discovered, inviting the public to enter into this extraordinary architecture. The capsule, a simple, coloured form, stands out clearly against the space in which it has been installed, extending over a height of more than six metres. At a raised height, as if in suspension, it evokes the idea of departure, flight: an aerodynamic shape evoking a futuristic, playful universe, a medium for flights of fancy relating to the world of carrier pigeons.

The artist

By calling on an artist-designer and not a fine artist, the mediator made a specific choice and one which appealed to the commisioning group. After working in collaboration with Philippe Starck for five years, matali crasset opened her own practice in 1998. In 1997 the city of Paris awarded her the Grand Prix du design. As an industrial designer, her work is based on listening to other people's requirements, and her designs combine aesthetic appeal and functionality. Accepting the commission for a pigeon loft is directly in line with her experimental research, at the same time as affording her an opportunity to respond to a context she is unfamiliar with: a natural, local context.