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Out of the Ordinary

Saarinen surprises in Jean-François Fourtou's Marrakech studio

Artist, sculptor and photographer Jean-François Fourtou came to prominence in the 1990s on account of his architectural set-pieces that make a dwarf or giant of any gallery-goer. The surrealistic sense of scale that characterizes his work invokes a child-like state of wonder. In otherwise mundane settings—kitchens, dining rooms and bathrooms—visitors are forced to wade through cluttered quotidian environments and experience them as disorienting spaces. This is the rabbit hole to Fourtou's wonderland. 

Jean-François Fourtou's residence in Marrakech, Morocco | Eero Saarinen's Tulip Chairs | PC: Richard Powers | Knoll Inspiration

Eero Saarinen's Tulip Armless Chairs at Jean-François Fourtou's home in Marrakech, Morocco. Photograph by Richard Powers.

“I wanted to create a strong sense of surprise and contrast by mixing Eero Saarinen’s Tulip Armless Chairs in with my 'Monumental Giraffe' sculpture.”

—Jean-François Fourtou

The artist's mix-use studio appears no less fantastical. Located in the heart of Marrakech's palm grove, the residence doubles as the staging ground for Fourtou's experiments. While Morocco has long served as a refuge for creative Parisian jet-setters, sheltering the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Jean-Paul Gaultier, Fourtou is a permanent resident, deeply invested in the well-being of the region. His works are open to the public, attracting a mix of tourists and locals, and remain permanent fixtures in the desert landscape.

Jean-François Fourtou's sculptures in Marrakech, Morocco | Knoll Inspiration

Top: "Tombeé du Ciel" by Jean-François Fourtou, 2010. Photograph courtesy of Jean-François Fourtou.
Bottom: "Monumental Horses" by Jean-François Fourtou, 2008. Photograph courtesy of Jean-François Fourtou.

In the unpartitioned living and dining area, a giant giraffe looks on at the oval table, surrounded on all sides by Eero Saarinen's Tulip Armless Chairs. Of incorporating mid-century designs in with his own work, Fourtou explains, "I wanted to create a strong sense of surprise and contrast by mixing in Eero Saarinen’s Tulip Armless Chairs, which I think of as a timeless design icon, with my 'Monumental Giraffe' sculpture." Behind the table, one can find prints of Fourtou's previous installations, some of which have been commissioned by Hermès, purveyor of luxury leather goods. 

Project Credits:

Design: Jean-François Fourtou
Photography: Richard Powers


Product Image
Tulip Chair - Armless