With Pierre Charpin’s memorable takeover of Apartment N°50 last summer still lingering in our minds, it’s especially thrilling that the designer has commandeered another French modernist destination: the Robert Mallet-Stevens-designed Villa Noailles in Hyères. Entitled ‘Villègiature’ (French for 'vacationing'), the exhibition brings together some 70 works – a balanced mix of objects, photographs and drawings – created between the early 1990s and now.
The exhibition is divided into two parts with a ‘simple binary criteria of classification’: the poolroom contains pieces that are intended to be displayed horizontally, while the squash courts hosts those meant to be presented vertically. ‘This approach exhibits the importance I have always given to the articulation between an object and the space which surrounds it,’ explains the designer, ‘[It’s] an articulation which I consider to be decisive in the object’s very design.’
To that end, the poolroom evokes a tropical island or seascape, with a glowing turquoise path leading visitors around the colourful array of products. Here Charpin casts the audience as ‘amateur ornithologists’, and his objects as migratory birds seeking sanctuary between journeys. Meanwhile, furniture and images are hung neatly around the white-gravel squash court.
Outside, four black concrete shapes are dotted along the terrace. Seemingly abstract, they were in fact were issued from a mundane catalogue of bollards. ‘Their presence here introduces a certain irony in relationship to my own work,’ says the designer, ‘To such an extent the formal analogy of these shapes with my own vocabulary appears obvious.’