Jean Nouvel 2013

The studies conducted to fine-tune the Chelsea handle are an expression of Jean Nouvel’s artistic sensibility. He designed it when he was working on 100 11th Avenue Avenue in the Chelsea neighbourhood of Manhattan, a 23-storey residential tower he describes as “a vision machine” that captures reflections from the nearby Hudson River. For the handles, Nouvel asked us for an unusual model. He wanted a shape that was different from the tubular geometry conventionally used for the lever.


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He also refused the materiality of steel, because he was letting his senses guide its formal definition. He wanted them to be stimulated by a soft, sensual shape that was pleasant to the touch, and a material that was warm, almost buttery. And finally, his aim was for the handle to be a mark, thanks to the use of colour

— 100 11th Avenue, New York 2010

— Jean Nouvel

These were the requirements that engendered the Chelsea. It is modelled after the print of a hand gripping it, and made in soft, black rubber.

— Institut du monde arabe IMA, Paris 1987

In the factory, when we engineered it for serial production, we experimented with Nouvel using different materials like wood and glass, until we decided to use porcelain in matte black and shiny white. Both are lively objects with great communicative. — Antonio Olivari

— Fondation Cartier, Paris, France 1994

— Conference Center, France, 1993