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museum of decorative Arts and Design

musée des Arts décoratifs
et du Design de Bordeaux
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39 rue Bouffard,
33000 Bordeaux

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Construction - Martin Szekely

from 26.04.2018
to 07.10.2018

Exhibition extended to october 7, 2018. 
“Let us call beauty, in the strictest sense, the adjustment of all parts proportionately so that nothing can be added, removed or changed without impairing the harmony of the whole. Such is great beauty, worthy of the gods…”
Leon Battista Alberti, De Re Aedificatoria, 1452

The musée des Arts Décoratifs et du Design (madd-bordeaux) has invited the designer Martin Szekely to show his work in its new exhibition space, a former jail located behind the hôtel de Lalande. The event will o er the public an opportunity to discover some 40 pieces by the designer, united under the theme of “construction.” Created between 1996 and 2018 (the most recent, The Drawers and I, is still in the production process as of this writing and will be seen at the museum for the rst time), these objects and pieces of furniture seem to reinvent their own composition: all are the result of a structural challenge.

For Martin Szekely, construction is the very essence of the designer’s profession:
“I perceive my activity from the point of view of the builder and the use that will be made of what I build, which by de nition involves the users, their bodies and their environment. Involving the user necessarily evokes the history of modes of use. And building – which is the role of the designer, as opposed to the artist, for whom ideas alone can su ce – evokes the history of structures and their underlying technologies.”

Experimenting with all materials, both new and traditional, Martin Szekely approaches each project as a fresh start, a re-examination. His pieces shed light on physical principles that question our relation to the material world. Within the space, his furniture and objects reveal their mathematical precision, the result of experiments in balance based on the data of mass, gravity and the interaction of forces, most often imperceptible to the naked eye.

His creative thinking correlates to a quest for simpli cation in order to approach, with care and caution, the limit state of the materials. In this process of reduction, even of deletion, the designer tends toward a minimal structural con guration. The pieces seem simple and obvious, with a universal dimension. Martin Szekely sees this concept of the minimum, whether visual or structural, as something that can be shared by everyone.

The works on view – all conceived for practical use – adapt perfectly to the jail, not merely occupying the space but making it their own. Simpli ed in the extreme, they unveil the very quintessence of their form, allowing a hidden dimension to emerge.

The goal of the exhibition is to present, through a historical and thematic e ort, the singular path pursued by this major designer.

Opening: Thursday April 26, 2018, 7:00 pm

Practical information: Opening hours, prices, guided tour


Martin Szekely, sofa ends Bing One (2005) et Bing Square (2007)
© Fabrice Gousset
Workshop "Construction"<br/> &copy;  madd-bordeaux - I. Gaspar Ibeas
Workshop "Construction"
© madd-bordeaux - I. Gaspar Ibeas




• Junior opening, meeting with the designer Martin Szekely – Wednesday April 25, 2 pm
Preview tour of the exhibition with Martin Szekely, followed by the workshop Construction.
Free admission for the members of the madd Junior Team. By registration.

• The workshop Construction for kids as part of the exhibition, free access, no reservation needed
A workshop, conceived by designer Martin Szekely himself, will offer young visitors surprising and fun ways to experiment with the properties of the materials in the world around us. You don’t need to be an athlete to break a single piece of dry spaghetti, but when they are configured in a precise construction, those strands can support loads much heavier than themselves!

• Special workshops for children’s outdoor, leisure and activity centers. By registration.

• Custom tours and activities for school and student groups throughout the duration of the exhibition.
Informations and registration at +33 (0)5 56 10 14 05 / artdeco.publics[@]


Guided tour followed by the Construction workshop (6-12 years)
Every day from July 9 to 13 at 10:30 am
Then every Wednesday of July and August * at 10:30 am  
With a mediator, the children discover the exhibition with the kids booklet, then take up the challenge of the spaghetti workshop (except August 15).
By registration at 05 56 10 14 05 or by email: artdeco.publics [at]
Free for members of the Team (membership for a year: 10 €)

Course in the city (Jardin Public) - Martin Szekely, Perrier glass, 1996<br/> &copy;  Alain Beulé (verre Perrier) & madd-bordeaux
Course in the city (Jardin Public) - Martin Szekely, Perrier glass, 1996
© Alain Beulé (verre Perrier) & madd-bordeaux


Special moments, these meetings are a unique opportunity to talk with the designer and better understand the singularity of his work.

Thursday May, 5, 2018, at 4 pm
Friday June, 15, 2018, at 3 pm
Friday June, 29, 2018, at 3 pm

Free admission – registration recommended +33 (0)5 56 10 14 05


In parallel of his experimental projects, Martin Szekely collaborates with prestigious French companies : Alaïa, Parrot, Weston, MK2, Heineken, Christofle, Dom Pérignon, Hermès, Bernardaud, Perrier, JCDecaux, Swarovski...

Between May and July, discover a selection of his works at different places in the city: Jardin Public (from June 19th to July 15th), at the Grand Hôtel (June-July), place Pey-Berland (May), at the Halles de Bacalan (May) and at the Cafemadd.


• During school terms
Saturdays and Sundays at 3 pm
Price: museum ticket + 3€ - No reservation needed

• All year round: On demand > 10 people
Prices: 50€ + 3€ per person during the week / 65€ + 3€ per person during the week-end
Registration: +33 (0)5 56 10 14 05 / artdeco.publics[@]
Guided tours (groups or individuals) in English on demand.

Guide booklet in English for adults and game booklet for kids.


In the occasion of the exhibition, the museum invites the public, every Thursday at 7 pm to listen to the intervention of an actor in the world of decorative arts or design or to attend a presentation of a specific theme related to the collections. 
The complete program


 June 26, July 4 and 12 at 3 pm
 As part of the exhibition, the Bordeaux World Heritage Interpretation Center - CIAP proposes to discover the architectural specificities of the Mériadeck district. This walk ends with the visit of the exhibition.
Prices: € 3 + admission ticket

Martin Szekely

Curator of the exhibition
Constance Rubini,
director of the madd-bordeaux
assisted by Camille Perrot
Conservation assistant,
contemporary collections

Martin Szekely

Graphic conception
Signage and catalogue: SpMillot, Paris
Graphic communication: Alexandre Dimos, Studio deValence

Géraud Périole


Publication supervisor
Constance Rubini

Graphic design
SpMillot, Paris

Sights of exhibitions and photography
Fabrice Gousset

To order the exhibition catalogue

Press kit (pdf)

EN Thank you 

Château Haut-Bailly,
mécène d’honneur

This exhibition is sponsored by 
Atelier Hubert Weinzierl
Bordeaux Métropole
Domeau & Pérès - Éditeur et fabricant
InterContinental Bordeaux - Le Grand Hôtel

Media partners
Le Monde
Station Ausone

The exhibition catalogue is published with the support of Mr and Mrs Léopold Meyer.

For their fidelity, the museum would like to thank 
Les Amis du musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design
Château Nairac
Le Chapon Fin
Les Crus Bourgeois du Médoc
Les Galeries Lafayette
La société de négoce DIVA