Jean Prouvé and Neil Hutchinson’s magnificent Villa Seynave hits the market

We pay a visit to Villa Seynave by Jean Prouvé and Neil Hutchinson and its finely tuned modernist architecture – currently on the market in the south of France

Villa Seynave by Jean Prouvé & Neil Hutchinson
(Image credit: Manuel Bougot)

Becoming the owner of a historic house can be a daunting prospect. Part caretaker, part curator, you’re in danger of having every aspect of your life, taste, and décor choices placed under extreme scrutiny, with little or no options for alteration or expansion. It helps, therefore, to find a property that is a fully realised masterpiece, without the need for substantial modernisation or restoration; enter, Villa Seynave by Jean Prouvé and Neil Hutchinson and its finely tuned modernist architecture.

Modernist villa in south of france

A sublime holiday villa in the south of France

(Image credit: Manuel Bougot)

This is a modestly sized villa located on the edge of a golf course in Grimaud, a seaside town on the bay of Saint-Tropez in the south of France. Designed as a holiday home, the house was commissioned by a businessman and finished in 1962. The design epitomises the low-profile, lightweight approach that characterises Prouvé’s work. The use of new, lightweight materials like plywood, aluminium, and glass panels give this long, low building an airy feel, with subtly curved exotic wooden panels on the façade, slender mullions and large expanses of glass. 

The modernist villa by Jean Prouvé & Neil Hutchinson in the south of france

The façade includes curved panels of tropical hardwood

(Image credit: Manuel Bougot)

Prouvé was relentless in his pursuit of prefabrication and industrialisation methods for architecture. The Seynave house highlights a few of his methods, such as the prefabricated concrete blocks that are distributed throughout the floorplan, containing the kitchen, storage areas, and bathrooms. Coupled with a lightweight post and beam structure, the cores support the flat roof. Simplicity is the key; the house has no heating, because it was designed for use during the balmy Mediterranean summers. Prouvé worked with architect Neil Hutchinson on the structure, and there are key interior elements, including the kitchen and cabinets, designed by Charlotte Perriand (opens in new tab), adding to the sense of occasion and historic value. There is also an integral lighting system by the industrial designer Serge Mouille.

Interior of modernist Villa Seynave by Jean Prouvé & Neil Hutchinson

Prefabricated concrete core elements house services and storage

(Image credit: Manuel Bougot)

The Villa Seynave is now on the market, on offer through the Paris-based Architecture de Collection website. The designer himself was adamant that a building be no different than a piece of furniture. In recent years, thanks largely to the tireless work (opens in new tab) of gallerist Patrick Seguin (opens in new tab), Prouvé’s reputation (and value) has been transformed by highlighting the sculptural value of his scarce pavilion projects, bringing them onto the international art market as both pieces of architecture (opens in new tab) at Château La Coste and sculptural objects (opens in new tab), collected by the likes of the Museum of Modern Art and the Pompidou Centre.

Wood clad interior of modernist Villa by Jean Prouvé & Neil Hutchinson

Unfolding screens can subdivide the space

(Image credit: Manuel Bougot)

The villa has been magnificently preserved, with all the original joinery and wall panels, as well as such period pieces as the steel fireplace, sunken conversation pit and sliding partitions to subdivide the space. Despite the verdant outlook (and the proximity of the golf course), the house is just 300m from the region’s beaches.

Prouvé is still best known for his industrialised housing systems, such as the prefab aluminium Métropole houses. One-offs like this modernist villa are rarer, but still display the innovation and experimentation that have become the architect’s legacy

INFORMATION
Villa Seynave, designed by Jean Prouvé and Neil Hutchinson, €3,500,000 via ArchitecturedeCollection.fr (opens in new tab)

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.

With contributions from