Jean-Michel Wilmotte, Paris, 2010

… What first strikes you when you encounter the work of the «Great Mechanic», is the sheer elegance to be found in every working detail, every proportion, allied with an admirable talent for managing costs and constraints.

There’s no preciousness, no superfluous act, no effect of style, and no expensive, lavish, or fancy materials.
Nowhere does the workmanship call for a particular skill in execution, or a higher level of industry than that of a factory-hand or artisan.

And yet… The design purity is no-nonsense, functionality verging always on a perfect aesthetic. Function distilled in exact design…

“New York, night on the rooftops… Floating over clouds of light, as if aboard a spacecraft. A new Captain Nemo high above the city…”

© Wilmotte & Associates.

When Eric Touchaleaume suggested I illustrate the universal nature of Jean Prouvé’s industrialized architecture, I confess I had my doubts. 

Too much respect, too much flawless simplicity, and too much social and humanistic «baggage». I seriously wondered if I should meddle with such delicate and technical material…

Anyway, I settled down a little and began to decontextualise the building, so I could consider it as an object pure and simple, and try it out in new situations… 

I decided: it’s a deal, I’ll make the architecture and the invention of Jean Prouvé live again.

The real challenge is not about placing this structure on top of a high-rise building or some fantasy beach, but about inventing, or rather re-inventing, different and special uses for it – artist’s studio, pied-à-terre for town or country, extra living accommodation, dance studio, beach house, lovers’ hideaway…

A latter-day rebirth for a masterpiece of technics, rigour and invention.


“Space and rhythm… Facing the febrile city, the tranquility of a piano étude, the artist’s quiet footfall… Studio and workspace, the school reborn as a place of expression…”

© Wilmotte & Associates.

It was an immense pleasure to be able to pull it off.

Every new situation, every new image, breathed fresh life into the «Villejuif Temporary School»… a building that is truly nomadic, ephemeral, cheeky, disturbing, a go-anywhere building now nobly adopted into the great family of collectors’ objects.

Systematic, production-line (or so it was conceived at any rate) architecture quite naturally turning into a perfect illustration of the exceptional.

It was a challenge that gave me a chance to work with Jean Prouvé, and to respect his spirit…


“Art for art’s sake. Like another sculpture, the shelter is a masterful work… open forms, primary colours, sculpted volumes… nature becoming the new…”

© Wilmotte & Associates.

go back
go forward
go forward