Posts Tagged: Pierre Berge

MISSING MARRAKECH: THE BRILLIANT BILL WILLIS

“Willis’s fresh eye came along to rejoice in its contrast of grand sobriety, rainbow palette and subtle variations on ancient Islamic themes. His disciples are legion, and echoes of his lively vision can still be found everywhere in his adopted country.” -Christopher Gibbs

Villa Oasis, Home of Yves St. Laurent and Pierre Bergé

I became enchanted with the work of interior designer Bill Willis after a magical trip to Marrakech last September. Click here to read about our amazing Moroccan adventure. I was blown away by the interiors we saw and even more shocked to discover these places halfway around the world had been designed by a fellow Southerner. Referred to as the “Magician from Memphis,” the unknown decorator was responsible for saving Moroccan craftsmanship from extinction in the 1960s. His legendary talent attracted clients that included the Gettys, Rothschilds, Agnellis, and Yves St. Laurent and Pierre Bergé. His jet set hedonistic lifestyle was not for the faint of heart.  Marian McEvoy wrote in her foreword to the book Bill Willis, “A man who liked to party until dawn, Bill was happy to settle down in a place where dinner started after nine o’clock and breakfast meetings and pre-dawn gym workouts did not exist.”

MARRAKECH EXPRESS: LE JARDIN MARJORELLE

 “The painter has the modesty to regard this enclosure of floral verdure as his most beautiful work…vast splendours whose harmony I have orchestrated… This garden is a momentous task, to which I give myself entirely. It will take my last years from me and I will fall, exhausted, under its branches, after having given it all my love.” –  Jacques Majorelle

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I am battling the Monday blues by studying more Marrakech history. One of our first stops on our trip will be Le Jardin Marjorelle. These famous gardens were started by the painter Jacques Marjorelle in 1937, opened to the public in 1947, and eventually purchased by Yves St. Laurent and Pierre Berge in 1980.

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Jacques Marjorelle was a French orientalist painter and the son of the famous Art Nouveau furniture designer Louis Marjorelle. He fell in love with Marrakech and purchased a palm grove in 1923 which is now Le Jardin Marjorelle.

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As Marjorelle travelled the world, the artist would bring back specimens to add to his garden including hundreds of rare varieties of trees and plants that included: cacti, palm trees, bamboo, coconut palms, thujas, weeping willows, carob trees, jasmine, agaves, white water lilies, datura, cypress, bougainvilleas, and ferns. He laid out the gardens in the same way he would arrange the composition of a painting playing with light and shadow and introducing bold color through painted walls and pottery.

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He began introducing color by painting the facade of his studio, and then gates, pergolas, pots and the various buildings in a scheme of bold and brilliant primary colors. His favorite shade was, an ultramarine, cobalt blue, “evoking Africa” which came to be known as “Marjorelle Blue”. This intense blue accentuated the various shades of green found throughout the garden.

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In 1931, he commissioned the architect, Paul Sinoir, to design a Cubist villa for him, constructed near his first house. His workshop, where he would paint his large decorations, was located on the ground floor, and he established a studio on the first floor where he spent much of his time. Balconies and an Arab-inspired pergola were added to the construction in 1933.

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Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé discovered the Jardin Majorelle in 1966, during their first stay in Marrakech.

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“We quickly became very familiar with this garden, and went there every day. It was open to the public yet almost empty. We were seduced by this oasis where colours used by Matisse were mixed with those of nature… And when we heard that the garden was to be sold and replaced by a hotel, we did everything we could to stop that project from happening. This is how we eventually became owners of the garden and of the villa. And we have brought life back to the garden through the years.” – Pierre Bergé  Yves Saint Laurent, “Une passion marocaine” Éditions de la Martinière, 2010

Yves Saint Laurent dans sa maison de Marrakech - 1976 PB 050876/4-8A

Yves Saint Laurent dans sa maison de Marrakech – 1976
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In 1980, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé bought the Jardin Majorelle, saving it from real estate developers. The new owners decided to live in the Villa Bou Saf Saf, which they renamed Villa Oasis, and undertook the restoration of the garden in order to “make the Jardin Majorelle become the most beautiful garden – by respecting the vision of Jacques Majorelle.”

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The painter’s studio  has been transformed into a museum open to the public, dedicated to Berber culture, housing the personal Berber collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé.

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Yves Saint Laurent would say he was able to find an unlimited source of inspiration in the Jardin Majorelle, and that he dreamt many times about its unique colours.

Jardin Majorelle

Jardin Majorelle

Yves St. Laurent dies in 2008 in Paris. His ashes were scattered in the rose garden of the Villa Oasis; a memorial was built in the garden, designed around a Roman pillar which was brought from Tangier and set on a pedestal with a plate bearing his name, so that visitors can remember him and his unique contribution to fashion. “It is a way for artists to live on… ” After Yves died, I donated the Jardin Majorelle and the Villa Oasis to the foundation in Paris which bears both our names.” – Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint Laurent, Une passion marocaine, Éditions de la Martinière, 2010

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INSPIRATIONAL ICON: JACQUES GRANGE

Jacques Grange in front of Damien Hirst
via The Selby

It is rare and glorious event to come face to face with an icon one has admired, studied, and been inspired by for years.  My recent trip to Paris was truly the trip of a lifetime….and I actually experienced a few of these “pinch me” moments.

We visited the atelier of Jacques Grange and the legendary designer gave us a personal tour of where he creates his design magic. His client list includes some of the world’s most sophisticated tastemakers: Yves St. Laurent,  Pierre Berge, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Valentino, Alain Ducasse, Karl Lagerfeld, Jacques Chirac, Francois Pinault, Ronald Lauder, Aerin Lauder, and Mathilde Agostinelli.

via The Selby

In contrast to many of today’s designers, Grange received a strict, classical education. After studying at the Lycee Janson de Sully and L’Ecole Gerson, he went on to L’Ecole Boulle, where he learned the crafts of cabinetmaking, plasterwork, and weaving. At L’Ecole Camondo, he studied the history of architecture, design, and decorative arts. Upon graduation, he worked for the renowned designer Henri Samuel and antiques dealer Didier Aaron. He was greatly influenced by Madeline Castaing from whom he says he learned the “poetry of decorating.” He opened his own design firm in 1970.

Master of the Mix

“Combining good taste and audacity is a subtle art that interior designer Jacques Grange has perfected  for over four decades…From rococo elegance to modern chic, and with Oriental and North African influences blending with Western styles, Grange’s touch is unique.”- excerpt from  Jacques Grange Interiors

Living Room of Jacques Grange

Art plays a major role in his interiors which is why he designs for some of the world’s most serious art collectors. He effortlessly combines antiques from various periods with modern and contemporary art. His living room shown in the 2 images above is a perfect example of his mastery. He combines a contemporary carpet from Iran with a 19th century chaise longue, a 1950s Jean Royere low table, boxy 1925 club chairs, an 18th century desk, and art by Damian Hirst. According to Grange, this work by Hirst “has the quality of all great art: First it shocks you, then you realize it’s great.” 

It is no wonder that Grange received the designation of Chevalier of Arts and Letters from the Minister of French Culture.  His passion and charm are contagious.  In a recent interview with Architectural Digest, Grange is described as “a whirlwind of energy, hopping between continents and clients. ‘I’m lucky I’m not a dancer,’ he says with an engaging laugh, ‘I can work until the day I die.”

Images of his work and from our visit are below…

 
Living Room of Mathilde Agostinelli
with distinctive Madeline Castaing carpet
Dining Room of Mathilde Agostinelli
Yves Saint Laurent below Leger Painting
Library  of  Yves Saint Laurent
Art by Brancusi, Picasso, Cezanne, Leger and Vuillard
Valentino’s Apartment
Art by Prince, Basquiat and DeKooning
The Mark Hotel
Our Gracious Host
Behind the Scenes
Nerfiti & Library
Contemporary art ready for installation
With Steven Shadowitz
via Peyton Haslip
Glass Art
 
Aimee: Precious Pug and Atelier Mascot
 

To purchase Jacques Grange’s book, please click here.