The 17th-century Chapelle Saint-Michel de Brasparts reopens to the public in July 2023, after a thorough restoration and with new interiors by Ronan Bouroullec. The chapel had been closed for a year, following a series of fires in the surrounding areas, and the restoration was supported by François Pinault.
Restoring the Chapel of Saint-Michel de Brasparts
‘The Chapel of Saint-Michel de Brasparts is a modest building, rectangular in plan, with a canted apse,’ Martin Bethenod, former managing director of the Bourse de Commerce – museum of the Collection Pinault, wrote in a text to introduce the project. ‘The walls are over a metre thick. The Arrée-hills-slate roof rests on an oak frame, magnificently restored by the craftspeople from Ateliers Le Ber in Sizun. The beaten-earth floor is slightly raised in the choir area. The stone walls are lime-rendered. The door of the main west façade is only rarely used. The south door is always open, it has no key, providing refuge, a resting place open to all – passers-by, hikers, pilgrims.’
Perched above the Saint-Michel de Brasparts mountain, the chapel sits on top of a slope characterised by diverse vegetation and terrain. Its rational, modest architecture had caught Bouroullec’s attention since he was a child, as he often drove along the route taking him from the south to the north of France to visit family.
For the chapel’s restoration, Bouroullec created new furniture, made of locally sourced Nuit Celtique de Huelgoat granite and comprising an altar with a base to hold a cross and candles, and a console table for votive objects. Essential in their appearance yet carefully conceived in proportions and execution, these pieces were created in collaboration with stone mason Christophe Chini from nearby Plonévez-du-Faou. The metal objects, meanwhile, were made by Mathieu Cabioch, an artist–metalworker based in Roscoff who helped Bouroullec create the cross and the candle holders.
Behind the altar, Bouroullec placed a round mirror, previewed by Galerie Kreo at Design Miami/Basel earlier this year and featuring a rippled surface created with a master glassmaker from Murano and placed in conversation with the chapel’s only decorative elements – namely the stained-glass windows, which, Bethenod notes, were attributed to the Breton master glassmaker Auguste Labouret.
‘The whole challenge of the project lies in the magical operation of creating lightness from mass. To achieve this, the notion of balance was key. Balance in the proportions, applying the rules of the golden ratio to the altar. Balance in the paradoxical relationship between the mass of the block of granite for the console-table, and its virtual suspension on steel legs that extend into candlesticks. Balance between the weight of the mirror and its impalpable, almost unreal quality,’ continues Bethenod. ‘Heavy enough not to be moved, sturdy enough not to be damaged, rough enough not to require cleaning, the elements that Ronan Bouroullec has placed in the chapel must succeed, despite or because of these characteristics, in creating a sensory experience, in establishing an intimate relationship with the sacred.’
Mont Saint-Michel de Brasparts, 29190 Saint-Rivoal, France
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Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.
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