Between beach hut and life raft, the pallet to the rescue of bistros

Visually, the coronavirus will have profoundly modified public space, throwing millions of masked city dwellers into the streets. The other major novelty is the appearance on our eye radars of gigantic DIY terraces, highlighting a makeshift material: the wooden pallet, created in the United States in the 1940s for handling in the warehouses of the navy and produced 46.5 million units in France in 2019. Let’s be frank: it would have been necessary to be a damn sharp futurist for, at the turn of the XXe century, imagine that the megalopolis of tomorrow would not be crossed by flying cars, but would resemble a Corsican beach.

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This hut becoming of the urban landscape, all the more noticeable when it contrasts with the unifying rigor of a Haussmannian Paris, does not please everyone, some by denouncing the carelessness through the hashtag #saccageparis. Panic not only visual but also moral, because the palette is also reminiscent of the ZAD (zone to defend), this space erected against the established order.


If we move our gaze a little, we can nevertheless see these places of conviviality in a positive way, like makeshift rafts to which everyone, bistro, customer, would tie up in order to avoid sinking. Product diverted from its primary use (the transport of goods), the pallet, often made of pine, spruce, is a lifeline, which reflects the omnipresent and almost invisible nature of logistics.

In a world saturated with standards, the health crisis will have put the interest of DIY, this art of adapting to circumstances back to the fore.

To try to unravel the mysteries of this new poor art derived from the great world trade, we decide to go on a report on a Parisian terrace of the 19e borough. Here, the pallet was used to erect ramparts of planks to delimit the space between a passing boulevard and the areopagus of tables from which customers watch an almost uninterrupted flow of cars. We are a bit in Paris, a bit in L’Ile-Rousse. Huge cans of tomato sauce transformed into flower pots and plastic pennants complete the decor of this urban hut where the menus, prepared « with love », are displayed with force smileys.

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This space, in which the palette has also been used to build planters, reflects both a need to extend the too long compressed domain of hedonism, and a surreptitious invitation to relax. In a world saturated with standards, the health crisis will have brought back the interest of DIY, this art of adapting to circumstances.

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