Marie Khouri's Concrete Planters
With sculptor Marie Khouri's series of concrete planters, the container is reimagined as contemporary art.
One of the most talked-about collections at last May’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York was unusual for a couple of reasons. First, the pieces were huge, white, and wavy, resembling gigantic dollops of meringue rendered in resin and reinforced concrete. Second, they were planters.
The pieces, part of the PL Series by Collaboration, “sit somewhere between art and design,” says Dave Demers. He is a Vancouver, Canada-based landscape designer who, with artist Marie Khouri, recently formed the partnership that makes those pieces.
Khouri, 51, is responsible for the shape and style of these planters. It’s a new twist in a successful sculptural career that began 15 years ago. Khouri lived most of her life in France, and after she and her husband sold their financial software business, she decided to take some art classes at the Louvre — a typical midlife move, perhaps, but one that, much to her surprise, changed the course of her life. “Maybe because I started sculpting later, I developed a signature right away,” she says.
Her work recalls that of great abstractionists like Constantin Brâncusi — whose Bird in Space remains an iconic 20th-century shape — but also the angular furniture of contemporary architect Zaha Hadid, though rounder and curvier. “There’s a female element to my curves,” Khouri says.
Her palette of gray, white, black, and bronze — on display in a whale-shaped, white bench she created in her own neighborhood as a commission for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, as well as in her purely abstract work — reflects her minimalist taste. It also happens to flatter greenery.
“I don’t garden, but I’m into outdoor spaces,” says Khouri. Collaboration also offers a remarkable limited-edition L5 bench in bronze, a segmented series of seats that appears to be softly melting in the sun.
The paring of Khouri and Demers has been a fruitful one. “I love the fullness of her work,” he says. “I’m on hand to play devil’s advocate and help with the functional aspect of the pieces.” Next up for the duo: a series of branch-shaped chandeliers. Expect them to be conversation starters.