Permis de construire, Domeau & Pérès

Permis de construire, Domeau & Pérès


“ To make out of a sofa a couch for adults, but also a possible game and playspace for children. The space of possibilities.

And to ban prohibitions. During our childhood, we all had to listen to our parents saying :  « don’t climb onto the sofa with your shoes on…. »

Building Permit (Permis de construire) is an object that creates a link between two generations and builds bridges across time. Because the time of children and the time of adults are different. Why shouldn’t we then conceive certains objects in our houselholds so as to free us from restrictions in daily life ? Why should so much importance be attached to the couch, when that object’s main purpose is to be sat on to watch TV, when during the rest of the day, this object is just a dead object ?

Building Permit was firts presented thanks to the support of Luisa della Piane in her gallery in Milan, as a part of the exhibition « Babybloom » , organized during the Milan Furniture Salon in April 2000.

matali crasset


* : Milan, galleria Luisa delle Piane, “Babybloom”, exhibition organized by Luisa delle Piane and Matali Crasset, with works by Andrea Blum, Ronan Bouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, Kauzyo Komoda, Massimo Morozzi, Ron Orb, Denis Santachiara, Oliver Vogt + Hermann Weizenegger.


Building Permit

Sofa- Construction game for children

“There is a time for everything »,  goes the saying. But one look upon this « sofa-game » forces to reconsider this statement. There is a composed structure, a sofa with its sitting space and armrests,  and there is a decomposed structure , a set of elements to handle and to combine. There is a houselhold object, and there is a game. There is the space of social rituals (to have a drink with friends) and there is the space of play (to build a hut with the foam elements.)

Does it mean that there are two separate worlds, the world of children and the world of grown-ups ? Two separate times, the time of the « social being » and the time of the « playful being » ? If we think it over, the sofa-game can be pictured as a sofa for adults and a game for children, but also as a game for adults and a sofa for children. This multifunctional structure seems indeed to open up a path leading back to the « childhood of man », according to the philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s conception of childhood as the ability to live an « authentic experience », to turn an event into a true experience. « The task of childhood : to integrate the new world into symbolic space. Because the child is able to do what the adult is absolutely incapable of doing, namely to recognize the New », said Walter Benjamin. The sofa-game can only be thought of as a twofold image of construction-deconstruction, ritual and game (the ritual creates structure, the game deconstructs structure). It seems to offer the opportunity to blur the frontiers between what is known, recognized and symbolized (the idea of the couch and the social behaviours attached to it) and what is yet unknown and open to any possibilities (the different parts of the contruction game that can result into an infinite number of combinations). Playing with the idea of the couch is a way to be ironic about the ritual.

Contrary to all expectations, to experience the sofa-game with its various elements, an invitation to play for children and grown ups, might be to finally grant oneself a « deconstruction permit ».

Emmanuelle Lallement



  • Tania & Vincent
  • Patrick Gries, courtesy Domeau & Pérès