Poet and cabinetmaker, Alain Fornells welcomes the visitor for a ‘modest furniture tale’, a kind of unexpected tour to the museum of reality and dream, useful and useless, a place where furniture has its own story to tell, in a colorful and squeaky way.
Alain Fornells began his creative journey and passion for constructing over 10 years ago, by collecting and salvaging old wooden merchandise crates and turning them into an assemblage of boards, often printed with topographical signs: “words, like drawings, signs, existed here like a rare persistence. Words suggest orientations. They can become the names for pieces of furniture or as on a boat: Avoid heat and humidity, Fragile. (…) Many long hours of searching, browsing for these materials; hours of waiting during which chance and associations of ideas take place and open a new space for expression.” The beginning for a new piece becomes an individual story, whilst the original wording gives Alain a spurt of creative inspiration for the design as well as inspiration for the tale to emerge.
A nurse by profession, Alain Fornells describes his passion as a painter’s dream. For him, every item of furniture is similar to a ‘bookshop’, a kind of living and sensible object which refers to order and method. The Modest Furniture is a universe of fantasy which mixes childhood memories with deep reflection on sometimes dramatic events of the past: Le KoursK (Russian submarine), La Loba, (from La Ramasseuse, a South American tale by Clarrissa Pinkola Estés), L'Impraticable (doors which open inward and take up the entire interior space), La Livreuse de Chocolat (an allusion to Marcel Duchamp and his Broyeuse de Chocolat. As well as a space conceived to create surprises full of sounds, movements and inventiveness. For Alain Fornells this is about working on a kind of memory lane; bringing a souvenir back and freeing the past; time is reversed, history is today. By narrating his furniture’s lives, something unsaid is being heard and a real depth of emotion unveiled.
Indeed, Alain Fornells has invented a ‘new corporation’: that of the ‘talkative furniture makers’. These once wooden boards assembled as crates to carry products have become vehicles: cars, boats, submarines, or cupboards, marquetry and idiosyncratic elements. The original look of the wood has been carefully kept, as well as the touches of colours, sometimes red or blue is added to the piece, but only occasionally. Other elements are part of the story, old petrol or oil cans, parts of metal bended or welded, and of course hinges and nails. One day, a lot of forgotten marbles rolled down from the top of a chest, the sound they made was like the clapping of thunder. Our artist recalls his father deconstructing objects on top of a buffet. Tales were born in draws as we soon discover as we listen to him: “I make so many pieces of furniture that I forget them. Then, later I come back thinking about something else, then I find them again and I am surprised. At night time I am sometimes under the impression that someone sneaks in and places them around to help me, he gives them to me. This one? Open it! (the doors open inwards). This furniture is almost useless, but it is useless for it to be practical! It is impracticable like an abandoned path passing the borders: Mancha, Catalonia, Occitanie. It keeps your flints, your spear and your paddle here in a hidden place.”
Alain welcomes families or small groups (maximum 8 per visit), and by appointment only. He tells his tales in French in a clear loud voice, so even if you aren’t completely fluent you can easily follow each theme and story, but in any case don’t worry; his Modest furniture is louder than he is! A beautiful and unique, poetic detour to the center of Bassan that is absolutely worth making.
Meubles Modestes, Alain Fornells
2, rue des Remparts, 34290 Bassan (center of the village next to the bar-tabac) Tel : 04 67 36 11 91 Group of minimum 3 people : 3 € each, from 4 onwards : 2,50 €each/children 2 €