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Genre-breaking and always in tune with the Zeitgeist,
a designer sets the tone

le french design

For this exhibition, VIA has commissioned Jean-Charles de Castelbajac to devise a poetic scenographic concept, emphasising the excellence of French art de vivre.

Texte Jean-Charles de Castelbajac

For NO TASTE FOR BAD TASTE the designer has produced a unique ‘mise-en-scene’ inspired by the ten values which embody le French Design. Who better than Jean-Charles de Castelbajac to showcase the multidisciplinary creativity at the heart of French culture? Always possessed of a cross-cutting vision, Castelbajac has never believed in boundaries between fashion, art, architecture and design. Driven by a relentless creative passion, he has immersed himself in every art form and has an unrivalled breadth of experience. What he brings to le French Design is not just his scenography, but genuine artistic direction. He is involved with the design, the music, the flavour, the graphics and the overall style of this exhibition.

From the beginning of his career, he has broken new ground, becoming the pioneer of a cross-cutting, indeed all-embracing art, deeply rooted in tradition. Art meets fashion, design, architecture and music…

His world revolves around unusual encounters and surprising combinations. His creative passion encompasses a sprawling oeuvre with a foundation in pop culture.

As a designer, he has always drawn inspiration from his own surroundings.

something which quickly propelled him into the world of design. He has collaborated with some of the greatest names of the last century, for example on projects for Corail trains with Roger Tallon and Air France planes with Raymond Loewy, whom he met in Linz. Later, he enjoyed a decisive collaboration with Andrée Putman.

Original scenography designed by jean-charles de castelbajac

In the late 1970s he brought his own twist to a Jacob medallion, creating his first Louis XVI chair upholstered in camouflage fabric with lines of poetry. Camouflage became a recurring motif in his designs, seen in everything from tableware to rug collections, from items of furniture to his 2004 Smart car. Poetry is also central to his approach, given full expression in his Proust table, his Point à la Ligne candles, or his “La Nuit” household linen range inspired by Gérard de Nerval.

For the Cibi e Riti seminar, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac joined the Alchimia studio with, among others, Ettore Sottsass and Alessandro Mendini in Berlin under the auspices of Alessi. Together, in the course of an exceptional week, they reinvented the contemporary culinary ritual.

This was followed by a fruitful collaboration with Ligne Roset, leading to production of the My Funny Valentine chair, designed with Ettore Sottsass and acquired by Mobilier National, and the multi-coloured sofa named “Jean-Charles” in reference to its spectrum of colours.

He soon became interested in lighting and launched the Totem lamp range, “symbol” wall lights, and a series of tubular lamps. This period saw a series of collaborations with emblematic companies including

Baccarat, the Royal Manufactures of Limoges and Raynaud, Portieux glassworks, and Valentine paints, for whom he produced new colour palettes.

In the 2000s, he produced affordable ‘pop’ collections under the name of JCDC: “Pop’celaine” tableware for Deshoulières, “Pop’ster” rugs for Toulemonde Bochart, and “Pop’ier paints” with Lutèce, the idea being to offer creative pieces in a spirit of “affordable luxury”.

Returning to the concept of his Teddy Bear coat designed for Diana Ross, he produced a limited series of seats made from soft toy animals.

These numbered pieces became a strong source of inspiration for contemporary design.

In 2006 he worked with Marianne Klapisch and Mitia Claisse to co-design the scenography for his monographic exhibition “Gallierock” at the Galliera Museum. Most recently, he unveiled Orlove, a 3200 m2 monumental fresco on the facade of Orly Sud airport terminal, and has collaborated once again with the Klapisch-Claisse agency for the exhibition NO TASTE FOR BAD TASTE, organised by VIA.


“For a long time I designed my clothes as if they were houses, with the pockets as the rooms, and the hood as the roof. So, when I created my first design elements, the opposite approach was evident, the priority being elegance.”