Legendary homes which superstars architects have created for their superstar clients is the theme of a new exhibition 'Houses for Superstars Hypermediated architecture' at the Art Centre of Villa Noailles. As the Villa itself represents one of the most iconic commissions of this type, designed by superstar modernist Robert Mallet-Stevens for legendary art patrons Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles in South of France, it is the natural venue to host a show on the subject.
There is a certain allure and glory attached to homes created by the stars for the stars, homes which have often become the ultimate representation of progressive taste, lifestyle, status, and aesthetic imagery of their patrons. Yet, I would like to pose the question of whether the subject is relevant in the context of design history or cultural discussion. We know that many of the special homes in modern time were commissioned by the stars. Think about Bob Hope's Palm Springs home by John Lautner, or the home of Jeanne Lanvin, created by Armand Albert Rateau, now in the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, in Paris. Is it a relevant theme in discussion of historical and aesthetic expressions as one body of work? .
The excellent assemble of homes included in the exhibition is certainly intriguing. The list includes of known and lesser known homes, from past, present, and future, built and unbuilt, portraying the radical, the extraordinary, the magnificence attached to homes designed for the stars.
Adolf Loos's unbuilt masterpiece for Joséphine Baker (1927) is included, even though it is still unclear whether the African-American dancer in fact commissioned the black-and-white modernist town house from the Viennese architect. The glamour château de l'Horizon, an enormous modernist villa designed by American architect Barry Dierks for actress Maxine Elliott on the shores of the Golfe-Juan at Valluris (1932); Calvin Klein's home on Fire Island, designed by Horace Gifford in the 70s; Naomi Campbell's unbuilt Isla Playa de Cléopâtre in Turkey, by Luis de Garrido (2011), and more.
I particularly loved the sections devoted to unbuilt projects. The 'House for a Superstar' contest, initiated by Japanese Pritzker-Prize recipient Arata Isozaki in 1975, in collaboration with Japan Architects magazine is illuminated. Among the hundreds of international architects designed projects for a star of their choice were Hans Hollein for Jesus Christ, Cleopatra, Lenin; Gian Piero Frassinelli for Michelangelo’s David; and proposed homes for Brigitte Bardot, Raquel Welch, and David Bowie. The exhibition is concluded with a special and original section devoted to the contemporary, based on a competition initiated by the Villa Noailles curatorial team and resulted in six ideal villas designed for six celebrities, including such projects as by DIXNEUFCENTQUATREVINGTSIX for The Spice Girls; and by Etienne Descloux for Mariah Carey.
To conclude, refreshing, fun, and recommended. Above: Romain Courtemanche La Cupola, Costa Paradiso, Sardinia, Italy.