Summer Together › Installation/exhibition

Raphaële Marchal



by Raphaële Marchal 

Every year it’s the same: we tell ourselves, hey, I’ve never been there, we should rent a cabin and explore the area, before we realise we are buried in work and have no time to plan a holiday, or by the time we get round to it, it’s too late and everything’s booked solid, or we have friends inviting us to their place for the summer, or we just feel like going all out this year and end up in Bali (admittedly not the most common outcome). But no excuses this year! Money is tight (and we’re saving the planet) (and flights have all been cancelled), so forget Machu Picchu. As for Paris in August, we love it… but we need to escape it too.

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  • Chaumont-sur-Loire International Garden FestivalChaumont-sur-Loire International Garden Festival

On show at the Chaumont-sur-Loire International Garden Festival

Lockdown confirmed the French taste for gardening: magazines, blogs and Instagram accounts are overflowing with plants of all styles, with such intensity that they seem almost to exude the scent of chlorophyll. Many of us have found ourselves in the grip of green madness or succulent syndrome.
Patrick Nadeau is a being apart from this frenzy however. An architect by profession, he took root slowly but surely in the landscape of French and international design to create a unique métier of which he is the master: plant designer.
What better moment to shed light on the talents of this modest designer than with his beautiful Rainforest installation currently on show at the unique and surprising Chaumont-sur-Loire International Garden Festival, a must-see for your summer holidays.


Patrick, when we think of plant design, we immediately think of you - you are a true pioneer in the field. Tell us about your work.
My work is a bit complicated to define because it takes several aspects. Plants are at the heart of all my projects, but these are very varied. In fact, to summarize the production of the studio, we can say that it consists of two main parts. A more "artistic" part, with installations for cultural places such as the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire and a more "design" part which concerns interior architecture, scenography or urban space, but always inspired by the plant.

I find it particularly interesting to work on contemporary living spaces such as office spaces, shops or complex projects such as stations. What I appreciate in this type of project is that they are never done alone but in collaboration with architects, landscapers.

Plants, in a development project are therefore part of a whole. In the same way that in a natural environment they are in permanent interaction with their environment, they must, in order to function in projects, find a dynamic balance with the other components of the place such as light, materials or colours. I also like to remind people that to be relevant and effective, plant design must be thought out from the very outset of a project.
Where does your passion for plants come from?
I must admit that I love plants first because they are beautiful! I like their colors, their textures, their fragility… In a project they bring freshness, fragrances or shades... So many invisible qualities to which we are instinctively sensitive in a space. Beyond their qualities, they can introduce something like strangeness into our artificial and often abstract universes. By their silence, their immobility, their organicity, their sensuality, they have the power to send us back to an original and mysterious world...

More realistically, as a designer, I am very attentive to their shape and architecture, to the way they optimize their vital functions with very sophisticated shapes. Their plasticity and in particular their ability to adapt to their environment by changing their own shape is very interesting to observe if we consider, as I do, that the challenge of design lies above all in finding the best adaptation of man to its environment, natural or artificial.
Tell us about your installation, Rainforest, at the Chaumont-sur-Loire festival.
A shower of Tillandsia usneoides sweeps above a tropical forest to fall on large turquoise pools cut from a carpet of Monstera… The installation is designed as a collage of landscapes. Tillandsia usneoides  (also known as Spanish Moss) are very common in the south of the United States and in Central America. They are epiphytes or air plants that live on trees and feed exclusively on air humidity and light.  They are often found in areas of lakes or marshes. In the installation, the tillandsias, which are arranged on large wire domes, hang nonchalantly over coloured spots composed of ceramic cups.

The latter are inspired by cenotes, a kind of very deep blue water hole found in the Yucatán jungle of Mexico. Ceramicist Ulrike Weiss, who made the cups, achieved their aquatic effect by melting glass inside.
What are your upcoming projects?
We are currently working on a new large installation for an art centre. It is about a mythical character from Christian culture with Romanesque architecture and dried flowers... I am also working on garden furniture and objects with design editors such as Laorus and Depot4Design, previously Authentics. We have also spent a lot of time in recent weeks on my new website designed by Travaux-Pratiques.
Finally, what is your motto?
Do what you like for others!
See more of Patrick Nadeau's work:  › 

Learn more about the Chaumont-sur-Loire festival:  ›