On the shores of Hyères, Design Parade nurtures new French talent
There is an intense summer soundtrack that drifts through the French commune town of Hyères and its neighbouring port city of Toulon. It comprises modernist charm, mixed with the romance of Riviera seaside, and an annual dose of design. In the surrounds of the Robert Mallet Stevens-designed Villa Noailles, opened the 14th edition of Design Parade, and for Toulon, it saw an expansion into curious locations for the fourth iteration of its very own expanding showdown of creativity.
It was particularly scorching weekend for the opening this year, but that didn’t stop design devotees indulging in what this year’s show had to offer in Hyères – from discovering new talents in the basement of the villa to exploring exhibitions in the squash room and terrace, where views of the coastline almost look painted. How do you distract the audience from this immaculate portrait? Head of the jury Mathieu Lehanneur decided not to compete, but to reflect it with his exhibition, Particle Horizon. Bringing together some of his design repertoire that imbues his biology-meets-art aesthetic, from mist diffusing trees to sculptural lighting, the Parisian designer was inspired by the water (a motif in his work) and the Côte d’Azur ambience.
‘I wanted to recreate that time of the day just after a nap when you feel chilled,’ Lehanneur explains. While sweat was glistening off most visitors, the aura was calming, high up in the concrete confines of the villa. Mist rehydrated the pores, and Lehanneur’s works of marble, light, and mirror enveloped guests, and surrounded the portion of the building that peers down to the swimming pool.
Lehanneur’s team of judges included Paola Antonelli, Stephane Danant and Cecile Verdier, who all chose Gregory Granados from the ten finalists for the Grand Prix accolade, for his whimsical collection of musical instruments crafted from everyday materials. Receiving a special mention was Maxime Louis-Courcier for his non-electric utility machines. The graduate from ENSCI Les Ateliers journeyed back to pastimes for his work, when earthenware-clay was used for temperature controlling. Following experiments, he developed an air humidifier and air conditioner using the material.
This support and admiration of fresh talent wondered over to Toulon – a city that adopts a rougher appeal, with a community feel and derelict architectural gems. During a tour with president of Design Parade, Pascale Mussard, an enthusiastic advocate for the area, and local Provence makers in general, she highlighted the festival’s developments during these past four years.
New to the 2019 – partners of the Toulon festival, House of Chanel, entered the fourth year with an award, the Visual Merchandising Prize which saw the ten finalists of the interior design competition create a mock-up window display under the theme of the Mediterrnean, while embedding the ethos of the fashion house. Out of the array of riviting displays on view until November at Ancien Evêché (the former Bishop’s palace), Caroline Wolewinski and Sandro Della Noce were winners with their majestic reflective reactions with light and colour.
Design Parade Toulon’s 2019 judging panel for interior design included Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance, jury president François Champsaur and Karen Chekerdjian, who chose Parisian graduates Céline Thibault and Géraud Pellottiero’s bathroom made of Marseille soap for the Grand Prix prize. Both a visual and fragrant treat, the immersive space also scooped the public vote.
Elsewhere in Toulon, the area gained endorsement from Paris’ Centre Pompidou too, with a pop-up design exhibition of chairs opening in ex-naval location Cercle Naval – an Art Deco cove that was dressed up in stripes by India Mahdavi for the occasion.
Among the soirées for each prize, there was a sense of camaraderie for the design destination. Mussard acknowledges the festival has a certain level of education for the audience, seen in its format as a launch pad for young designers, endearingly framed by installations in the scorching, historic backdrop. §