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…tracked this Montreuil firm down after seeing some images of kitchen cabinetry fitted out with leather "hinges."

Erwan Lévêque and Alphonse Sarthout, the two graduates of l’École d’Architecture de Paris la Villette who founded the firm in 2003, have much to proclaim in French concerning their design impetus (go to the Download link on their site, if you are curious).

The architectural concern coexists with a carpentry company: they build much of their own work. Ciguë ( "hemlock"? As in Socrates' poison? Really?) demonstrates a particular fetish for salvaged materials, primarily wood from pallets and old concrete formwork. It doesn't seem like the firm has completed many architectural projects (most of the intriguing entries in that category on their website don't imply that the work was realized, or that it will be), but they do seem to have put together quite a few interesting examples of furniture and commercial/retail fit-out.

I think they could be best described, judging by their website, as "obtainium architects," obtainium being the everyday, disgarded and dismissed poor cousin to the infinitely-valued unobtainium. It's a nice volte-face, with unpolished and unloved or even wasted material treated perversely as if it is the most precious. I have to wonder though if that sort of beguiling reversal of valuation is a sort of one-liner, design-wise, and there are other architects working in a similar vein…but unless the human race miraculously achieves a post-scarcity economy that one-liner may well remain fresh.

The only thing I don't like about this firm is their Flash-based website, which is "retro" in an untypically bad way…good luck with trying to peruse it on any of your wonderful modern "i-Products." I should add that the images that accompany this post are all screen-caps from their site.
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