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The art of stylish storage

Ceiling and cabinet panelling with expanded metal

Those who find organisation and tidiness boring are not familiar with expanded metal. Because with expanded metal a filing cabinet becomes a designer piece of furniture. Combined with a matching ceiling panelling, a work of art is almost created. Because aluminium expanded metal (rhomb) looks different from every angle.

Interesting effects with expanded metal covering

Philippe Lebourg from the architect’s office Agence Azimut in Nantes loves expanded metal. He not only enclosed the ceiling metal carriers in his new office with an expanded metal covering (rhomb 20x10x2), but also the 5.80m long filing cabinet (rhomb 20x10.5x2). There the metal was wrapped around the frame similar to a canvas so that interesting effects can also arise when the doors are opened. The company Jallais S.A. from Nantes was responsible for the excellent craftsmanship.

“Art is anything you can get away with”, said the pop art icon Andy Warhol. “Don’t bother hiding something, turn it into art!” Philippe Lebourg, owner and managing director of the architect’s office Agence Azimut in Nantes, France laughs heartily at this. “We did, in a way, follow this advice”, he says, “when designing our office. There were metal carriers in the office, which could not be concealed with all the will in the world! When this is the case, it is definitely better to emphasise such distinguishing features rather than trying to conceal them. The concept thus gradually grew on us to use metal as the design material for the office and cover the ceiling with non-surface treated aluminium expanded metal.

Interplay of light and shadow on several levels

MEVACO expanded metal (rhomb 20x10x2, bridge thickness 1.0 mm) was processed by the company Jallais S.A. in Nantes according to our specifications. During the day, the ceiling looks like any other but with a flat metal surface. A different perspective is, however, opened up when the fluorescent tubes fitted behind the covering are switched on in the evening, as the technical fittings and installations of the ceiling then become visible.” Is it possible to work in this lighting? “We are very pleased with the result”, continues Philippe Lebourg. “The office is still optimally lit in spite of the filtering through the expanded metal. In this connection, new interplays between light and shadows are always arising depending on the angle at which you look up at the ceiling.”

A perfect example of sensible storage

The architects of Agence Azimut didn’t, however, just leave it at that. As is standard in their sector, they must organise numerous dossiers, plans and drawings in folders so that everything is well stored, yet easy to find. A 5.80 m long filing cabinet, made from wood painted in white, is a great help in this connection. The cabinet was covered in expanded metal (rhomb 20x10.5x2, bridge thickness 1.0mm) in order to retain a sense of design continuity in the office. The five sliding door elements, each with a width of 1.10m, were covered with expanded metal. The metal was drawn around the frame similar to a canvas in order to be able to slide the doors in both directions. New patterns are always waiting to be discovered when a cabinet section is opened due to the effect created when the doors double over each other.

Transparent but still private

The affinity that Philippe Lebourg has for MEVACO expanded metal is not without reason: “It is an unbelievably diverse material”, he explains, “and the visual effects are fascinating. The transparency of the material versus the sense of privacy it facilitates as well as the interplay between transparency and the impression of solidity are two important features for me. Coming up with ideas is almost child’s play with MEVACO expanded metal!” Which brings us back to art; this is ever-present in the designs of the Agence Azimut architects and they continue to use a lot of expanded metal and perforated sheets in this connection, as is currently the case as part of the renovation of the Centre Commercial Jean Vilar (Jean Vilar shopping centre) in the La Roseraie district of Angers.


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