Our moments of exploration
In the pages of this new edition, T takes you on a jour ney to meet creators, but also to discover places that are intimately linked to Tectona’s cultural universe. We went to Zug, a town situated between lake and mountain in German-speaking Switzerland. There we discovered the new restaurant Più whose outdoor dining area was fitted out with the Clubhouse collection designed by BIG-GAME. In the Netherlands, we interviewed the creator Wieki Somers about the genesis of the Grasshopper collection that she imagined for Tectona in 2010 in brief: how to transform a grasshopper into a piece of furniture that is elegant, playful and robust. This seemed an opportune moment to visit the Tectona Workshop in Normandy to discover the secrets behind the fabrication of the Muse bench, created by Isabelle Baudraz for the Musée National Picasso – Paris, then developed and commercialised by Tectona.
The journey continues in the company of Spanish landscape designer Luis Vallejo, a renowned specia list in Hispano–Moresque gardens. In Marrakesh, we discovered the sumptuous oasis that he designed for the Royal Mansour hotel which he decided to fit out with Tectona furniture because of, in his words, “the purity of their lines and the durability of the wood”. This is just one of the many cultural institutions that Tectona has partnered with since its creation in 1977. Continuing the theme of relaxation and comfort, we selected for you some of our most iconic benches. Finally, we wanted to share our appreciation for pho tographer Eric Poitevin who kindly agreed to exhibit, in our stores, photographs of modest plants captured in the manner of a herbarium.
A symphony of nature
Meeting with Luis Vallejo
It has been said that gardens are the visible face of Paradise. It’s easy to believe when you lay your eyes on the verdant oasis of Royal Mansour in Marrakesh, where a lush array of greens -mint, sage, emerald… - stands out from the blue tones of the sky and the ochre of the walls. A symphony of nature created by the Spanish landscape designer Luis Vallejo that showcases the splendour of Morocco and its Andalusian heritage with a dash of Japanese minimalism.
Royal Mansour, in Marrakesh, is not exactly a hotel. It’s located a short distance from bustling Jemaa El-Fnaa square and could better be described as a town within a town. Or better still as an immense garden where seasoned travellers will find, beyond the drab facades, some of the most beautiful riads in the world. The soundscape adds to the overall impression: the gentle burble of fountains, uplifting birdsongs and the soothing sounds of olive, palm and lemon tree branches swaying in the breeze.
“Every garden belongs to the place where it is located, its history and its culture. Here I was inspired by Moroccan agricultural landscapes, in Ziz and Todra valleys, and of course by traditional Arabic gardens complete with clever irrigation systems, patios, orchards…”, explains Luis Vallejo, a landscape designer who most definitely knows his stuff. He was born in Madrid, the son of a nursery owner, and learned to appreciate the legendary beauty of Andalusian gardens for himself, starting with the Alhambra in Granada.
Luis Vallejo specialises in sun-baked terrains: Saint-Tropez, United Arab Emirates, Tel Aviv, Majorca, to give some examples; he is unrivalled in his ability to transform deserts into stunning landscapes. Engineering plays a role, of course. But above all it’s about a certain sensibility.
Apricot blossom © Fernando Maquieira
Luis Vallejo eschews the straight lines characteristic of French-style gardens, preferring a certain idea of freedom, even if, in his words, “when we deliver a project, the priority is to find a gardener who’ll be able to continue the work”. Because a garden is never finished: every season is different and every year has its quota of surprises.
Today he is very much an artist: he makes subtle modifications, follows up and gives advice on one of the most beautiful (and secret) spots in Marrakesh. And because this is a place for promenades, even meditation, the gardens cover three main spaces: the medina, the swimming pool and the kitchen garden, which he chose for Tectona furniture: “the purity of their lines, the durability of their wood were essential”.
To derive maximum pleasure from these spaces, where every perspective has been meticulously thought out, every seat, every bench must be able to blend into the three-dimensional artwork created by Luis Vallejo. A creative streak runs through his family; while most of his eight brothers and sisters chose music, it remains true that Luis Vallejo’s path is a singular one much beyond his immediate family,
encompassing works for private clients and largescale projects like hospitals in the Spanish cities of Burgos, Madrid and Valladolid.
His sense of detail was also honed by Japanese influences. In the mid-1960s, his father brought back some books from a conference on landscape engineering he had attended in the United States. For Luis Vallejo, these books, which he still owns and enjoys today, were a revelation. His passion for the harmony of bonsai today makes him a worldwide expert. His collection, hosted in the eponymous “living museum” in Alcobendas, is one of the most beautiful in the world. This passion is what led the Japanese government to award him, in 2008, the Order of the Rising Sun, the highest distinction that it can bestow on a foreign citizen for promoting Japanese culture.
Although the identity of each garden is primarily based on its surrounding territory, Luis Vallejo adds his signature touches to each one, infusing the local culture with his taste for other lands and his longterm outlook. From Morocco to Provence and the East to the Iberian peninsula, he skilfully orchestrates intercultural dialogue with nature as his canvas and never ceases to amaze.
A gem between lake and mountains
T invites you to Zug, a picturesque village in German-speaking Switzerland, between Zurich and Lucerne, on the shores of the lake of the same name. Zug is renowned for its historical old town full of narrow winding streets that urge you to enjoy a slower pace of life, whiling away hours on summer evenings or watching a romantic sunset over the lake.© Sarah Vonesch Photography
PIÙ ZUG, AN ARCHITECTURAL BACKDROP
Più restaurant, which officially opened on 1 June 2022, is located in the centre of Zug, in the majestic main hall of the former Post Office and the outdoor dining area on Postplatz (Post Office Square). The Post Office building, listed as a historic monument since 1995, is one of the most iconic in town, a remarkable example of neoclassic architecture exemplified by the facade and the perron steps. Più Zug is the fourth Più that the Italian group Bindella has opened in Switzerland. Its generous menu –Più means “more”– is inspired by classic Neapolitan cuisine but contemporary influences are given free expression too.DOLCE FAR NIENTE
The outdoor dining area on Postplatz provides a particu larly convivial ambiance. When it came to the furniture, NADER INTERIOR opted for Clubhouse, the collection designed by BIG-GAME for Tectona, for several reasons: the sleek yet welcoming design; its functional nature such as ease of use; and the grandeur of the wood: premium teak by Tectona. The chairs and the tables withstand the sunshine as well as the rain. No glue was used in their fabrication; only mechanical techniques, mortise and tenon, were used to assemble solid wood pieces, resulting in pieces of furniture that are extremely durable and sturdy. The compact leg assembly of the tables limits their overall bulkiness but also increases comfort as human legs are unencumbered. Another plus is that the chairs can be stacked easily.
NADER INTERIOR was entrusted with fitting out the restaurant (120 covers), the café bar (capacity of 42) and the outdoor area (64 covers) and they selected furniture that was both functional and aesthetically pleasing with regard to the noble materials used and the purity of forms. The resolutely contemporary pieces pay homage to the rigour of Swiss design and also give subtle nods to Italian Grandezza via the use of materials such as marble, solid wood such as Tectona’s premium teak, right down to the black stone sculpted into a pizza oven.TECTONA & BIG-GAME
For more than twenty years, Tectona has been making a mark in the world of contemporary design by opening its workshops to young creators, such as Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Pierre Charpin, Inga Sempé, Barber & Osgerby, Christophe Delcourt… who have subsequently forged their own paths in the international design scene. In the same spirit, 2017 heralded a new collaboration between Tectona and the renowned Lausanne University of Art and Design (ÉCAL) whereby Tectona would bring to market furniture designed by graduates of the school. This was the case for BIG-GAME, a design studio founded in 2004 by three ÉCAL graduates, who created the Clubhouse collection for Tectona in 2017, expanded in 2021 by the addition of an aluminium version. This ongoing dialogue with the new generation of designers helps the brand remain relevant and dynamic; in return, Tectona keeps traditional craftsmanship relevant and dynamic by placing it at the service of contemporary creation.
Landscapes, portraits, still lifes: images by photographer Éric Poitevin are somehow unclassifiable but also instantly recognisable, sometimes manifesting prolonged time periods, sometimes fleeting rapidity. His works, graciously loaned to Tectona for exhibition, are simply fascinating.
As a photographer of the singular, his works resist categorisation and transcend labels and oxymorons. There is no ostentation inside the frame. Éric Poitevin lives and works in a small village on the edge of the Meurtheet-Moselle département in Eastern France, only twelve kilometres from where he was born in 1961. The location of his studio owes as much to his attachment to the area as to necessity, given that in his early days he had to get by on a shoestring budget. It’s not that he hasn’t travelled, seen the world or shot elsewhere; it's simply that he has continued to create images with few resources. “I’ve always liked to be not isolated but removed…”
His early days included a residency at no less than Villa Medici in Rome in 1989 where he created a small set of black-and-white portraits of nuns and cardinals. Two years later he was exhibiting. Brussels. Bordeaux. Geneva. Metz. Athens. Paris.
Some of his photographs were also bought by one of France’s Regional Funds for Contemporary Art, bringing them to a wider audience in Luxembourg, Lisbon… He also teaches at Beaux-Arts de Paris. Does he derive satisfaction from teaching, transmitting knowledge? “Satisfaction is a word, “a feeling” that I’ve never experienced so to speak and that isn’t relevant here. Accepting a teaching role is a big responsibility. Sometimes it’s a thankless task but sometimes it’s also a wonderful source of pleasure around questions or shared concerns. The idea is to accompany as best as possible young people who are interested in art and who for the most part want to become artists.”
Returning to the studio and to his decision to work with the view camera, which forces the user to think ahead, to anticipate the image and to build it: “Improvising
and wandering are impossible. The view camera engenders a relationship with space that I don’t think any other device can. The cost of production, especially for the 20 × 25 format, can act as a brake and force you to make choices. I find this quite healthy. All these parameters give rise to a certain state of conscious ness and create the conditions from which emerge images that I find interesting.” At the other extreme, Éric Poitevin doesn’t hide the fact that he also shoots with his smartphone. While the 20 × 25 view camera is synonymous with slowness, careful consideration and meticulous planning, the smartphone provides speed, which some images need.
Éric Poitevin is also the author of several books. The first, published in 1987, Le chemin des hommes, consists of 100 black-and-white portraits of men who had fought in World War I - “It was one of my earliest image series” he says. It was published by newly formed Éditions Cenomane, “a small publishing house, enthusiastic and very brave”. His other books have notably included l’ Anatomie d’une collection , illustrating the exhibition of historical objects of the Musée de la Mode Galliera, and Servez citron with two members of the Troisgros culinary family. The most recent, Je plumerai les canards en rentrant, was published just a few months ago, “on the occasion of a solo exhibition at Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon that has just ended. It is published by the magnificent Éditions Macula”. Éric Poitevin is supported and promoted by three renowned galleries: Bernard Jordan in Paris, Christian Egger in Neuchâtel, Switzerland and Albert Baronian in Brussels.
Through his friendship “which I’d now describe as longstanding” with Arnaud Brunel, whom he knows to be a photography connoisseur and collector, Éric Poitevin agreed to his work being exhibited at Tectona.
Today Tectona opens the doors to its workshop to reveal the different steps involved in the fabrication of the Muse modular bench. In 2017, Musée National Picasso – Paris asked ÉCAL, the famous Swiss school of design, to organise a contest to renew its seating.
The design proposed by young designer Isabelle Baudraz was selected; subsequent development and fabrication were entrusted to Tectona. The oak bench combines traditional woodworking and cabinetmaking techniques used by Tectona with the precision cutting of a computer numerical control (CNC) machine.
From oak tree to Muse bench, every step from cutting the wood to the finished product.
From trunk to slats
The trunk is first cross-cut (across its length) into blocks, then rip-cut (along its length) to give the following cuts, from the outermost layer to the innermost heartwood:
1. bark and sapwood, both of which are young wood still growing hence unusable in woodworking.
2. flat cuts, rift cuts and quarter cuts from which the heartwood, susceptible to cracks, is removed. These pieces are respectively cut to give the smallest to largest slats.
And finally: Muse!
The slats are assembled together by double mortiseand-tenon joints, which confer the level of robustness required for use by the general public. Next they are fixed to two transverse supports by screws inside wooden plugs. The slats and transverse supports rest on four oak legs.
Modules can be combined in twos or threes, for example, to form seating ‘islands’.
Finishing the slats
Once the slats are obtained, the following four operations are performed on them in turn:
1. planing to give a regular, even surface.
2. routing to transform them into a moulding with a semi-circular edge.
3. scrollsawing to create a curved cavity in the moulding.
4. cutting chamfers into the slats, to eliminate sharp edges.
FIXING SLATS WITH SCREWS AND PLUGS
Benches to last a
Whether in teak or powder-coated aluminium, the overriding aim for all Tectona benches can be summed up in one word: durability! The use of solid teak sections and traditional assembly techniques such as mortise-and-tenon joints underlie the exceptional sturdiness of these benches. Technical prowess is also applied when powder-coated aluminium, naturally corrosion-proof, is used.
1800 bench transparency
In 2006, Tectona produced its first piece in powder-coated aluminium, a reworking of the bench, originally in wrought iron, of the Directory style. The finesse and the equilibrium of the powder-coated aluminium structure, blue-grey or black, confer a delicate grace to the bench which went on to inspire the 1800 collection.
Circle Bench, a 360° viewpoint
The ideal bench for a full panorama! This piece could be a poster child for the painstaking craftsmanship deployed at Tectona: the backrest crossbeams and the seat slats are carved from blocks of teak, a cabinetmaking technique that guarantees perfect stability and utmost sturdiness.
inspired by traditional roof frames
Here, the natural beauty of teak is enhanced by the arrangement of the wooden slats forming a structure that is both strict and light, simple and sophisticated, classic and contemporary. The use of dowelled mortise-and-tenon joints and wooden caps to hide the screws are a testament to the craftsmanship practiced at the Tectona workshop.Design : Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby
a perennial classic
Since its creation in 1977, Exbury has become one of Tectona’s classics. The particularly imposing teak sections are cut from single blocks and assembled using mortise-and-tenon joints, as per best practice in cabinetmaking. The timeless elegance of Exbury transcends fashions and fads.
Wieki Somers imagination and delicacy
As a talent spotter, Tectona has notably collaborated with the Studio Wieki Somers (Dylan van den Berg & Wieki Somers). Their projects bring together fantasy and rigour, comfort, function, technical prowess and poetry. Tectona was won over by their highly developed sense of form and lightness of movement, as evident in their vases.
It was during a mountain break that Wieki Somers had the idea for her Grasshopper collection. Read on to learn the secrets of the fabrication of this timeless ensemble, consisting of two tables and a chair, launched en 2010.© Anne Timmer
What is the concept of the Grasshopper collection?
The willowy posture of this line is inspired by a grasshopper about to leap.
We wanted to design a collection that would blend into a traditional or a more contemporary setting, with furniture made from durable materials, but also light and elegant, combining the solidity of a hammer with the immateriality of a sheet of paper. The perforations in the metal play with sunlight, allowing rain to pass through without leaving a trace.
We seek wonder and the wonderful in everyday life; it’s up to us to reveal the hidden qualities of the ordinary.
How did you combine fantasy and technology, two values you hold dear, in this collection?
We experimented with materials and techniques to create pieces that make sense and which appeal to the imagination of users. Our approach is characterised by a combination of technical inventions and a sensibility to form and materials.
Every object celebrates the production process that led to its design and at the same time we try to hide the ingenuity of the system to give maximum expression to fantasy.
Two of Grasshopper’s distinct features are the shape of the legs and the green colour. How did you reach these decisions?
It all started with a grasshopper that we were able to observe from a close distance during a break in the mountains. Its long skinny legs pointing elegantly towards the sun and their gracefully inclined position inspired the leg assemblies of the tables and the chair. Forms both elegant and robust. Our intention was to design a collection that looked light and was not overly intrusive, but at the same time sturdy, comfortable and stable. Of course the green colour of the collection is a direct reference to the colour of the grasshopper.
The collection also appears to be inspired by postwar modernism, a significant period in the history of design…
Indeed, the form of the grasshopper chair ―the slanting legs, the oldfashioned hue and a certain elegant simplicity― may evoke furniture of the 1950s. To be honest, we never considered these historical references while designing the pieces; it just goes to show that very often design surprises itself when accidental references become apparent…
Generally speaking, is nature a source of inspiration for your projects?
With its unpredictable forms and its ambiguous relationship with man, nature is an endless source of inspiration for us, more or less direct depending on the project. In the present case, grasshoppers were a direct source. They look fragile, breakable, like little branches, but they are also capable of creating a sort of incredibly refined camouflage for the purposes of protection, seduction and predation. So much complexity hidden in this tiny creature what an incredible design!
Showcasing Tectona’s diversity
Although Tectona forged its reputation in outdoor furniture, the brand has also deployed its traditional cabinetmaking skills to create exceptional indoor pieces. Four creations illustrate this commitment to beauty, to craftsmanship and to a passion for a sublime lifestyle.
From the outdoors…
Glenwood, impervious to the passage of time
Inspired by traditional English furniture, Glenwood was designed for the outdoors. And for comfort, thanks to the wide and deep seats, a backrest sufficiently high to support the back and gently curved armrests. To ensure maximum durability and stability, the different parts were assembled using dowelled mortise-and-tenon joints and the legs were cut from a single block of teak.
Batten, the contemporary elegance of teak
Designed in 2017 by the design duo at THINKK Studio, the Batten collection in teak (armchair and tables) illustrates how the outdoor lifestyle has evolved over time, expanding to cities and their highly coveted outdoor spaces. The contemporary sobriety of its architecture highlights the way the wood has been worked into wide slats according to Tectona’s traditional craftsmanship.
…to the indoors
Biblos, for the love of books
Imagined by Alexis de La Falaise (1948-2004), Biblos is an indoor bookcase in satin-varnished teak that can be moved, thanks to castors, and rotated. The openwork design enables easy access to books, whatever their size and their height, from oversized artbooks at the bottom to pocket-sized novels near the top.
a story of Versailles
This bench was inspired by two oak benches belonging to the heritage collections of the Château de Versailles. One passed from the stables of the Château de Saint-Cloud to the Château de Versailles in 1855. The second was listed in the inventory of the Petites Écuries de Versailles. The bench, of simple design, was adapted by the Tectona Workshop for use by private individuals and by the general public, including those visiting the Château de Versailles. In the Tectona version, oak has replaced the velvet of the seats, which are now wider and more comfortable.
Tectona Cultural diffuser
Ever since its creation in 1977, Tectona has been applying and transmitting its unique craftsmanship in the furniture sector. It has made a name for itself not only for its classic and contemporary style but also the solidity and durability of its furniture. These are highly sought-after qualities especially in places open to the general public, such as museums, and also parks and gardens of prestigious institutions.
Paris, Musée Rodin
In 1977, the Glenwood bench was selected by Musée Rodin in Paris and 45 years later it continues to provide a welcome and comfortable pause for visitors to the museum’s gardens. Glenwood benches also grace the paths of Chambord Park.
1992 Bordeaux, CAPC
In 1992, Tectona launched the bench designed by Andrée Putman for CAPC (Contemporary Art Museum of Bordeaux).
Château de Versailles
Rome, Villa Medici
In 2021, Tectona partnered with Villa Medici, a high temple of culture between classicism and contemporary art. Visitors to the gardens of the Villa can now enjoy the shade of a century-old tree by sitting on the Circle Bench or taking in the stunning vistas of the Eternal City from the comfortable Copacabana deckchair.
Since 2020, Grande ÉcurieVersailles benches punctuate the routes taken by visitors to the Château de Versailles. Designed and fabricated by Tectona, the bench draws inspiration from the furniture of Maison JacobDesmalter, which was the primary supplier to palaces in the mid-18th century. This piece is the fruit of a partnership between the Château de Versailles and Tectona.
Paris, Musée Picasso
Following a competition in 2017 jointly organised by ÉCAL and Musée National Picasso – Paris, the Muse bench imagined by the designer Isabelle Baudraz was chosen to renew the museum’s seating. After further development by the Tectona Workshop, the modular bench in oak entered the brand’s catalogue.
Plateforme 10 bench
Hyères, Villa Noailles 2022
Villa Noailles is an artist’s residence that has organised, every summer since 2006, a contest open to ten young designers, offering them a showcase and unique guidance. As part of its commitment to new design and the cultural venues that give expression to it, Tectona installed a veritable design icon in the Villa’s square: the Roma parasol.
Lausanne, Plateforme 10
On 18 June 2022, a new cultural hub in Lausanne, Plateforme 10, officially opened to the public. The gigantic hub includes three cantonal museums and two foundations covering around 25,000 square metres. Tectona was a partner in this project from 2019, when it organised an international design contest for the creation of a bench for the exhibition spaces of Plateforme 10. The winning bench, imagined by Pierre Charpin and made by Tectona, consists of solid oak sections and has a consciously simple design that is very good at not diverting attention from exhibited works.
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