Rather than label themselves as a design studio or designer duo, Alexis Lautier and Pierre Talagrand of Montpellier, France-based Mr & Mr prefer to call themselves "maison d’édition indépendante" or an independent editing house. "We are designers and editors—the border in between the two is not always clearly defined," Talagrand tells CH. "We think the editing process is also a form of design. In this regard, our approach may be closer to that used in artistic practices (or even the approach used by artisans) by maintaining a direct link with the reality of the objects created."
This design mind has resulted in contemporary handbags woven from traditional material of palm leaves to rings that join glass jars that give these containers a new life and an added ability. During an artist residency in NYC sponsored by Institut Français and La Région Languedoc-Roussillon this past November, Mr & Mr designed objects inspired by the city—from a visitor's more sensitive perspective. "Inhabiting a city makes us forget the details," they say about their "Layers" project. In NYC, "paint is the omnipresent source of color, direction, and protection from the elements." As new coats of paint are applied, the previous layer becomes a part of the painted object's history and meaning. Using the same enamel that coats subway stations—and only this paint—the duo created iPad covers, vases and chair cushions by painting layer upon layer (and waiting six hours between each to allow for drying); the paint thus becoming its own medium of creation.
Similarly, their newest collection Autel (French for "altar") fits the pair's signature style of hybrid materials with a poetic notion that challenges an observation of this world. The resulting useful and intriguing object then provides an alternative. "The idea was to reinterpret an altar for the contemporary house," says Talagrand. "With this inspiration, we designed three different shelves representing an altar, where you can place your personal objects and the souvenirs collected from your day-to-day life." Currently, the two designers' own Altars—hanging on their Montpellier office walls—display "jewels, a book on the history of fashion, a flower pot from the NYC project, a family postcard, and some colored pencils."
"We are not religious, but we think an altar is cultural and social and it somehow speaks to our contemporary, personal mythologies," Talagrand continues. "After a long while, we realized it's not just an inspiration, but it is more a process of creation. We like our objects to tell stories, and we reveal the stories throughout our creation."
Altar is made from folded steel and a thermo-lacquered finish. There are three different models, all of which will be available in three different sizes. Each shelf has multiple holes scattered across, to be hung by different colored rope and tied in any pattern that pleases you. Talagrand says, "To suggest this idea of individuality—something personal—the altar comes with instructions to make your own plaiting, so this way, when you're putting it on the wall, you are already making it yours." Playing with balance and asymmetry, each altar becomes "harmonized" by the user and the personal objects they choose to place.
Altar will be available for purchase from HAYSTAKT later this month, at an estimated price of €150, regardless of size. Be sure to check out Mr & Mr's other goods from previous collections, such as their cabin luggage bag.
Images courtesy of Mr & Mr