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Paris, Marseille and Venezia… our summer picks

Paris, Marseille and Venezia… our summer picks

After spending a bit of time in France and Italy, we came back with great visits and discoveries to share that hopefully you can see if you are in Europe.

Gallery Bensimon Paris Gallery Bensimon Paris

Our visits in Paris included the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, rue de Rivoli, and the Carpenters Workshop Gallery, with the “organic” group show; “coup de coeur” for the Campana buffet, the Marc Quinn bench and the Wendell Castle chairs. Great to see Francois Chambard featured at Gallery Bensimon, teasing the upcoming group show in September, not to mention Triode Gallery and Ymer & Malta Gallery.

blogpostFR5 Marc Quinn, Carpenters Workshop Gallery, Paris

There is a lot to see outside of Paris, and Marseille is an extraordinary place to visit. The contrasts, the light, the mix, the energy, the blue from the sea to the sky all lend something unique to this city that somehow is close to what we feel and love in New York. In 2013, two great places opened in Marseille that have a special architectural interest: the muCEM, a museum dedicated to all the facets of the European and Mediterranean civilizations, from an environmental, to a religious or civil rights point of view. The museum, between sky and sea, is a combination of a new building designed by architect Rudy Ricciotti, and the old Fort St Jean. Playing with concrete as the main material, the shapes of the new building redefine beautifully the horizon of the Mediterranean.

blogpostFR2MUCEM and old Fort St Jean, Marseille

The second visit in Marseille was the Cite Radieuse: The “Unite d’habitation”, designed by Le Corbusier and inaugurated in 1952 in Marseille is a superb example of Modern architecture. Now there is another reason to discover La Cite Radieuse: the former gymnasium on the roof is transformed to a new Art Center, the MaMo (Marseille Modulor), initiated by the French designer/entrepreneur Ora Ito.

blogpostFR Cite Radieuse, Le Corbusier, Marseille

On view until September 30, the “Defini, Fini, Infini” installation by Daniel Buren reflects and plays with both the architecture of Le Corbusier and the site of Marseille, from sea to sky, in a juxtaposition of mirrors and colors. A must see.

blogpostFR3 Daniel Buren installation at Mamo, Marseille

After visiting our friends at Alessi, Ikon photo, Moroso, Casamania and Valcucine, we spent the weekend In Venice. On view until November 23rd 2014, the 14th International Architecture Biennale di Venizia curated by Rem Koolhaas was an inspiring and rich visit.


Fundamentals (is) a Biennale about architecture, not architects. After several Biennales dedicated to the celebration of the contemporary, Fundamentals focus(es) on histories – on the inevitable elements of all architecture used by any architect, anywhere, anytime (the door, the floor, the ceiling etc.) and on the evolution of national architectures in the last 100 years” stated Rem Koolhaas.

largebiennale3 “Elements of Architecture”, central pavilion, Venice Biennale

“Without my parents’ balcony I would not be here”, Rem Koolhaas.
In the main space, “Elements of Architecture” dedicates a room per element you find in a house: roof, ceiling, window, corridor, floor, balcony, fireplace, door, wall, toilet, etc… and gives a history or ironic look at these elements. The information is well organized and the scenography is very fluid. Between the super engineered glass facade and the original chinese roof system, it feels like a museum and a very nice one.  Each element becomes an exhibit on its own and some of them moves one more than others. For me, it was the balcony!

largeLeCorbusier Le Corbusier Dom-ino house, Venice Biennale

In the Giardini, you can admire a 1:1 scale model of Le Corbusier Dom-ino house put together by VBVB Studio principal Valentin Bontjes van Beek and AA School students. Dom-Ino first designed in 1914 by Le Corbusier is celebrating its 100th anniversary. More info

largefrench Villa Arpel model, French Pavilion, Venice Biennale

The French pavilion was truly educative and eye opening. “Modernity, Promise or Menace?” is curated by Jean Louis Cohen and address the issue of modernity, mass construction and standardization of society thru architecture. A fascinating video is playing across the space and at the center, as a link between each of the three stories that are being told, is a colorful model of Villa Arpel from Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle.

large dutchpav Dutch pavilion, Venice Biennale

The Dutch pavilion was also focusing on the history of progressas the Biennal theme suggested “Absorbing Modernity”. The exhibition “Open: A Bakema Celebration” , curated by Guus Beumer, is beautifully designed and the graphics, photos and videos combination was truly inspiring as a story telling process.

largebiennale4 Ai Weiwei’s Forever Bicycles at Palazzo Franchetti, Venice

On the Canal Grande, on the Vaporetto, you can also see the Ai Weiwei Forever Bicycles installation in the garden of Palazzo Franchetti.