Creating an open-air gallery was a long-held dream of Jean-Gabriel Mitterrand, owner of Paris’s Galerie Mitterrand and nephew of the former French president François Mitterrand. So when, in 2013, he spotted this wild slice of countryside near the Massif de l’Estérel mountain range, just a 45-minute drive north of St-Tropez, he jumped at the opportunity. By 2015, a total of 40 sculptures had been installed – all in the midst of a summer heatwave – and the park was open.
‘It all happened a bit instinctively,’ explains Edward Mitterrand, Domaine du Muy’s artistic director. Father and son both loved the location, but when it comes to describing the house that sits at the top of the hill, Edward is less flattering. ‘It was terrible,’ he says. ‘Unfinished, ugly and faux-Provençal.’
Fortunately, he was introduced to India Mahdavi at a friend’s party. The acclaimed interior designer and architect hatched a plan to disguise the home’s visual shortcomings: a silver façade. ‘I’m not sure if she got the idea from the Prada Foundation in Milan, with its gold front,’ muses Edward. ‘Maybe it just came from her brilliant brain.’
The result seems to reflect the blue of the sky, essentially erasing the architecture. ‘At first, we were afraid that we would cook like eggs on the terrace in summer,’ adds Edward, ‘but it turned out really well.’
So well, in fact, that Mahdavi was then asked to extend her expertise to the interior. The result is colourful and full of joy – typical of Mahdavi’s signature style, which Edward describes as ‘somewhere between graphic and Mediterranean’.
Tiles from her collaboration with Bisazza feature throughout, creating a bold backdrop to a collection of sunny pieces, including her bright ‘Afro’ dining chairs and inviting ‘Jelly Pea’ sofas. In an approach similar to the careful placement of sculptures outside in the grounds, artworks are scattered generously throughout all of the rooms.
Outside, selections tend towards vividly hued pieces that stand apart from the nature that grows, often untamed, around them, and inside, a similar theme has developed. Edward is especially fond of Lapsed Platform, the arresting yellow sculpture by British artist Liam Gillick that is suspended from the living room ceiling.
Edward’s aim is to be able to offer accommodation to artists and designers, whose work will be displayed in the house’s basement-level studio space. ‘It will be a great way to entice clients and friends to come back, because the works outside can’t change every year,’ he explains. Sat on the terrace, where you can catch glimpses of some of the current crop of sculptures peeking out through the foliage, it’s actually hard to imagine things ever changing.
For the full house tour see ELLE Decoration July 2020
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