Corian® is the perfect blank canvas. Available in a large range of colours, the non-porous, solid surface material can be shaped into virtually any conceivable design. Jean Nouvel, one of the most creative and challenging architects in the world, has explored this idea during the recent design week in Milan.
Corian® Nouvel Lumières is a futuristic, multi-sensorial interior environmental concept that explores the interaction of Corian® with light and high-tech elements. The innovative display features a complete interior environment characterised by six domestic spaces including a kitchen, library, bedroom and living room areas entirely made with DuPont™ Corian® solid surface.
Known for a personal vision that combines urban awareness with a fluidity of form and sensitivity to context and function, Nouvel’s objective was to retain the poetic dimension of the Corian® material, while using it to create a realistic home environment rather than an abstract installation.
“I have always seen Corian® as a material that symbolises total abstraction, the materialisation of an absence,” says Nouvel. In this project he attempts to explore how to make this absence present. While this is clearly an extremely complex concept to address, Nouvel uses light to give the material different degrees of translucency, revealing domestic spaces that have poetry to their design but also an element of reality.
“I wanted to play with the contrast between the monolithic look of Corian® — which is made possible by the apparently seamless way it is joined — and the sense of refinement that is contained in its mass. This is a very mysterious dimension of this material,” explains Nouvel.
Using a combination of different techniques such as backlighting, bas-relief surface effects and engraving, Nouvel has created interesting light-plays on the material’s surface. With the abstraction of patterns interacting with the attraction of luminescence, he has revealed the ultra-smooth character and versatility of Corian®.
The display consists of a 20m long “wall” covered on both sides with horizontal and vertical layers of Corian®. Nouvel has used light to differentiate the distinct domestic areas.
In the kitchen, backlit panels in Corian® Ice White create a playful “Chinese shadows” feature, with the illuminated appliances inside the cupboards contrasting the sharp luminous rectangles that outline the countertops.
International kitchen brand Ernestomeda actively collaborated with Nouvel to design the kitchen unit structure. One innovative feature, seen for the first time, is the frame in transparent acrylic used to hold the doors in Corian®.
Scholtès (Indesit Company), a high-performance built-in domestic appliance brand, has also contributed to the kitchen area of Corian® Nouvel Lumières. Featured products include the innovative, ergonomically designed built-in oven from the Attitude line. Combining stainless steel with glass and soft-touch elements, this oven offers the same capacity as a standard model but is 12cm smaller, since its control panel is embedded into its handle.
Light isn’t the only element used in exploring the different interfaces of Corian®. The kitchen and other spaces are filled with ambiences that can be altered with the touch of a button or two. The devices — dimmers, controls of time-delay, “scenarios”, day and night, hot-to-cold and chromo-therapy — all feature simple, intuitive designs and are illuminated with coloured LEDs.
Corian® Nouvel Lumières is much more than art for art’s sake. Nouvel believes environments similar to the one he has created are just around the corner.
“With its continuous quality on the walls and floors, and its ability to encompass programmable light ambiences, Corian® will be the cause of a sensitive transformation of many apartments and offices, rethinking and reorganising their interiors,” he says.
Jean Nouvel has interpreted Corian® in new and surprising ways, poetically blending technology and aesthetics, conceiving an installation that can be defined as a peak of excellence in design.