August 2 2013
A creative wind
If the summer is synonymous with ‘South of France’ and traffic on the port of St Tropez, getting lost in the Provencal countryside suggests the height of elegance.
Against a backdrop of creativity. Some addresses of choice.
Domaine des Andéols is a small contemporary miracle between fields of lavender and cypress. In view of the foothills of the Lubéron, old basins and Land’Art pieces inhabit the landscape whilst unpublished prints and books of contemporary photography punctuate the interiors. In this landscaped hamlet run by Olivier and Patrizia Massart (the latter made a name for herself producing Parisian fashion shows), everything seems naturally inspired: a platform lined with a inviting few tables sit under the heights of an old plane tree, a vegetable green on the horizon beyond the apricot and lavender fields, drawings by Guy Bourdin add a hint of glamor on the walls of the restaurant.
There is not a corner where the eye does not fall, with surprise, upon an original work, a moving sculpture against the blue, airy view or a wall recreated in the rules of art. A visionary and sophisticated property in the heart of the Provencal countryside that has been given the Design Hotels seal of approval.
When in the presence of the minimal architecture of Tadao Ando, it’s as though one is in Japan. Further upstream, the sculpture park and the pieces in the adjoining Land’Art evoke – in their way – the best American foundations. Floating over 125 hectares of vines, however, is the vision of Irishman Patrick McKillen…Near Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, a small village near Aix-en-Provence, the landscape welcomes rather unique pieces such as Aix by Richard Serra which gives the hillside a slice of life with its three giant ‘razor blades’ in oxidized steel. Below, the soft color palette of the Wall of Light Cubed – a cuboid in gray and pink limestone and red marble – by English painter Sean Scully, plays with the soil.
Perched atop the field, the Chapel of Tadao Ando doubles as a pearl cross made out of red glasses designed by Othoniel: spiritual, the architectural monument of glass and metal traps the walls of an ancient sixteenth century chapel which is surprising in its humility. Overlooking the field sits the music pavilion by Frank O. Gehry and the futuristic form of the winery designed by Jean Nouvel. We already know that on the way back we will cross the ecological engineering of Andy Goldsworthy, Liam Gillick’s colorful sliding panels and marvel at the reflection, in the main basin, of the giant spider by Louise Bourgeois and the slender cone by Hiroshi Sugimoto pointed towards the sky.
Just like Uzès, whose medieval silhouette stands out in the distance, the Château Arpaillargues is a beautiful eighteenth century mansion: formerly the Hôtel d’Agoult, it hosted the tumultuous love affair of Marie de Flavigny and Franz Liszt, before she married Charles d’Agoult. Under the shade of an old fig tree, we made a pit stop at this mansion – affiliated with the Châteaux et Hôtels Collection – to enjoy a Provencal gourmet meal for lunch and/or dinner, accompanied by an oil from the Domaine de la Magnanerie on the Ardèche border. The weather here seems to be naturally suspended in the flavors of summer.
Hyères, just like every year, is inviting the young guards of European design to exhibit their unique projects. Against an exhibition background in homage to the architectural genius of Marcel Breuer – who is exhibiting himself at the Villa Noailles with thirty pieces of furniture and previously unpublished archival material – and atypical porcelain pieces designed by Aldo Bakker for Sèvres – The City of Ceramics: this collaboration has led to “six objects that transfer, contain, keep, or simply stand poised on their center. Sinuous lines, interwoven shapes and dripping volumes evoke the fluid aspect of the matter. Each object plays with the archetypal characteristics of a spout: a container, a spout, a handle. All in all a suggestive representation of the act (and the art) of transfering”.
If the ingenious system of trestles by Mathieu Peyroulet Ghilini won the Grand Jury Prize, Claire Lavabre mirrors are even more poetic. Moreover, they re-enchant the real, in ‘looking deeper’ into the reflection areas on the walls, by superposition. “Everywhere I go I see reflections. The reflection of a tree in a lake, the reflections in the windows of trains. Reflections that appear on transparent surfaces, reflections that create overlapping images. I imagined a device that heightens the impression of a reflection on a transparent surface”, says the young designer.
Positioned on the hills of Luberon, facing the village of Bonnieux, Lacoste is not only a unique collection of historical houses at the base of the Marquis de Sade’s château, but also the home to the unparalleled education program, SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design studies SCAD program). In pursuing the vision of the American artist Bernard Pfriem (who founded The Lacoste School of the Arts in 1970), SCAD has been offering, since 2002, the chance for foreign students to stay in buildings and art studios to compose pieces of work under the perfect light of the South of France…aspiring artists, welcome!