On the shores of Hyères, Design Parade nurtures new French talent

Particle Horizon by Mathieu Lehanneur at Design Parade inside Villa Noailles.
Particle Horizon by Mathieu Lehanneur at Design Parade inside Villa Noailles.
(Image credit: Felipe Ribon)

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.

Sandro Della and Noce Caroline Wolewinski

Sandro Della Noce & Caroline Wolewinski’s winning design for the Visual Merchandising Prize by House of Chanel.

(Image credit: Luc Bertrand)

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. 

Gregory Granados - copyright JPPM/Luc Bertrand - 7

Gregory Granados scooped the Design Parade Hyères Grand Prix prize with his musical instrument project

(Image credit: press)

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.

Zou Mae by Céline Thibault and Géraud Pellottiero, winners of the Grand Prix prize for Design Parade Toulon

Zou Mae by Céline Thibault and Géraud Pellottiero, winners of the Grand Prix prize for Design Parade Toulon.

(Image credit: Luc Bertrand)

Earthenware-clay Air humidifier and air conditioner

Earthenware-clay Air humidifier and air conditioner by Maxime Louis-Courcier who recieved a special mention from the jury

(Image credit: Luc Bertrand)

Jury president of Design Parade Toulon, François Champsaur’s solo showcase.

Jury president of Design Parade Toulon, François Champsaur’s solo showcase.

(Image credit: Christophe Rihet)

Design Parade Hyères, until 29 September; Design Parade Toulon, until 24 November. villanoailles-hyeres.com

Sujata Burman is a writer and editor based in London, specialising in design and culture. She was Digital Design Editor at Wallpaper* before moving to her current role of Head of Content at London Design Festival and London Design Biennale where she is expanding the content offering of the showcases. Over the past decade, Sujata has written for global design and culture publications, and has been a speaker, moderator and judge for institutions and brands including RIBA, D&AD, Design Museum and Design Miami/. In 2019, she co-authored her first book, An Opinionated Guide to London Architecture, published by Hoxton Mini Press, which was driven by her aim to make the fields of design and architecture accessible to wider audiences.