‘No designer creates a piece of furniture just to see it shown in a museum,' says Constance Rubini, curator at Musée des Arts Décoratifs et du Design in Bordeaux. 'The objects are intended to have a life in the context of a home.' Housed within the charming Hotel de Lalande, the museum’s location is renowned for its dramatic setting for contemporary design exhibits.
Described as ‘an everyday mise-en-scene-like presentation’, the current 'Houselife' exhibition sees Rubini and co-curator Juliette Pollet decorate the aristocratic surrounds with modern collections from the Centre national des arts plastiques (CNAP).
Throughout the 18th century space, the duo have peppered rooms with pieces by a plethora of designers, including Alessandro Mendini, Naoto Fukasawa, the Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Jasper Morrison and Studio Formafantasma.
The company lounge
'The only "staging" that we did was to ask the perfumer Frédéric Malle and the musicians of the Bordeaux conservatory to create scents and sounds that suggest the kind of family life that could have taken place in this residence,’ Rubini explains. For example, in the 'dining room', the scent of coffee is diffused in the morning and basmati rice at lunch time.
The different dramatised chambers explore the versatility of the decadent interiors. Transforming the space entirely, a statement Philippe Starck bathtub commands the stately living room area, where Raw-Edges' ‘Stack’ storage unit and a Bouroullec Samsung Serif TV also hold court. ‘The idea was to create surprises by integrating the pieces smoothly in the existing spaces, with no clashes or disruption,’ Rubini explains of the abstract product placements.
Over in the lounge, an Andrea Branzi quote is emblazoned across a mirror: ‘Design is nothing more than a setting, a way of materialising a certain idea of the universe, a way to create a new imaginary realm.’ Here, tones of red underline all, with a tomato-hued ‘Méridiennes Yang’ sofa by François Bauchet and Patricia Urquiola’s ‘Fjord’ lounger standing out. Elsewhere in the room, Alessi daily essentials by Naoto Fuksawa and an indoor plant filtration device by Mathieu Lehanneur are uncannily paired with a classical harp that centres the Renaissance space.
Elsewhere, Rubini and Pollet add a new dimension to the exhibition with an architectural polar-opposite – Rem Koolhaas’ Maison Lemoine. The products that are placed in this modern domestic space are cleaner, more Scandinavian silhouettes. ‘Here the choice was made more according to the characteristics of the architecture itself,’ Rubini muses.