Dear Shaded Viewers,
I like to refer to Odile Decq as the Alfred Hitchcock of the architecture world. By that I mean Hitchcock and Decq’s approach to their work is much the same. The French architect Odile Decq develops all of the details down to the smallest ones so that before the construction of the building begins she knows exactly how it is going to end up. Hitchcock planned his films in the same way with extremely detailed storyboards so that the film was finished for him even before he called Action.
I’d seen Odile Decq for more than a decade in Paris at many art openings and fairs but we had never met. Thanks to my friend Anas Koubaiti, this meeting was made possible. At first glance Decq reminds me a bit of Suzie and the Banshees but for sure she owns her look and her enormous accomplishments. Her mission upon graduation from Ecole nationale superieure d’architecture de Pairs-La Villette, was to prove that she could be an architect and in order to do that there were many projects and studies that she had to get through before she was seriously recognized in 1988 when she won her first really big competition for the Banque populaire de l’Ouest in Rennes, France. On this project she worked with English engineers with two materials: steel and glass. These now iconic structures astonished everyone. It was built right after Beauborg and around the same time as La Villette. In 1996 she was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture as an emerging architect. This award gave her worldwide recognition.
Another monumental project was building the MACRO, Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome which took ten years. She was also responsible for the FRAC Bretagne, Regional Contemporary Art Fund, Rennes and Fangshan Tangshan National Geopart Museum of Geology and Anthropology in Nanjing, China and many more. In 2009 she started to design seats and furniture for UNESCO. The approach to product design is totally different because it is in direct contact with the body architecture is an envelope around your body but it is far away from it. When you design a seat it is how it works with your body or a knife how it feels in your hand. In architecture you have to convoke law, geography, technical structure, everything and in design it is just a question of how it will be used. She has created a great number of objects now and many more are designed but not yet issued.
She defines the term multi-disciplinarian with her work in urban planning, architecture, design, art and education. She has been teaching since the 90’s and built and opened her own school Confluence Institute for Innovation and Creative Strategies in Architecture in Lyon, France in 2012. She started her own school because she did not believe that the education in architecture was fitting the needs of the young generation of architects for the 21st century. What is funny is that since the school was launched everyone from abroad comes there and is very interested but…never the French. Decq says that she could divide her career into two distinct parts, that of building buildings and creating products and that of education.
A few of her awards: in 2001 she was awarded the Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, in 2003 the Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honor, which is the highest honour you can receive in France. But it did not stop there. In 2016 she received the Jane Drew Prize, Architect’s Journal and in 2017 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award the Architizer A+Awards.
There is so much more that Odile Decq has to say that is not in my text so I urge you to click on my low-fi videos above.