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Houses for Superstars: Hypermediated Architecture

If you could build a house for any celebrity, who would you pick? Villa Noailles most recent exhibition focuses on the conceptual constructions born from collaborations between (star) architects and celebrities.

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Where, in the early 2000s, we had “MTV Cribs” that showed off the gadgets and gimmicks we’ll never get inside palatial mansions (and neither did they, because it turned out to be completely fake), we now have celebrities like Kim Kardashian showing off their minimal homes via Instagram stories, YouTube stars giving tours through their apartments and almost art-documentary style videos on NOWNESS’s ‘In Residence’ series of famous artists showing a more “wholesome” perspective on the inner workings of their home lives. Our fascination with the homes of celebrities is one that continues to grow and walks a thin line between a reflection of everyday life whilst simultaneously being a fantasy that is out of (our) reach.

A product of a collaboration between a celebrity architect, Robert Mallet-Stevens, and equally famous French art patrons Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, the Villa Noailles is dedicating its exhibition space to the somewhat meta-exhibition that is “Houses for Superstars”. Dedicating itself to the hyper mediation of architecture through the prism of stars’ houses, the exhibition takes the stance that as a political, public figure “the star” is able to transgress the norms and the good taste of their time (or conversely to point them out). As a result, their homes (and the people that design for them) are able to question and transform representations of the domestic sphere.

The exhibition, curated by MBL architects and Audrey Teichman, features a selection of projects carried out by architects for well-known personalities, ranging from Joséphine Baker to Calvin Klein and Naomi Campbell, and studies the status of these exuberant architectures that are photographed and commented upon almost as much as their owners’ lives. These spaces seem futuristic, yet timeless at the same time and show the dedication and risks that architects put into the challenge of creating work for large personalities whose decisions are publicly debated and scrutinised.

The show also reflects on the wave of creativity that seems to hit architects when asked if they could design a project for a star of their choice; a client where money is no object, and the sky is the limit. Inspired by Arata Isozaki’s Japan Architects Magazine competition “House for a Superstar”, in which more than three hundred international architects designed projects for a star of their choice (ranging from mausoleums for Jesus Christ, Cleopatra and Lenin to houses for Brigitte Bardot and David Bowie), the villa asked six young architectural agencies to design, imagine and document the ideal villas of six celebrities whose universes and degrees of fame are multiple. The chosen celebrities reflect on who we consider to be a “celebrity”, and the architect’s/our perception of their personalities based on what they chose to show. Here, the envisioned houses offer quite the variation in both choice and style of execution, as different sketches were made for 90s girl-group The Spice Girls, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, reality TV-star and make-up extraordinaire Kylie Jenner, “Songbird Supreme” Mariah Carey, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet and 1950s actress, singer, playmate and stage show performer Jayne Mansfield.

“Houses for Superstars” will be on view until March 15th, 2020 at Villa Nouailles.

Cover Photo: Luis de Garrido for Naomi Campbell Eye of Horus House (unbuilt), Isla Playa de Cléopâtre, Turkey, 2011

Horace Gifford for Calvin Klein. The Calvin Klein House, Fire Island, USA, 1972. Photo: Sloan Yee
DIXNEUFCENTQUATREVINGTSIX for The Spice Girls. DIXNEUFCENTQUATREVINGTSIX is an architectural office based in Paris, founded in 2014 by Mathilde Gaudemet (1986) and Arthur Ozenne (1986). Noticed by a house extension project in Uzès, the agency won the Albums of Young Architects and Landscapers (AJAP) awarded by the Ministry of Culture.
Luis de Garrido for Naomi Campbell Eye of Horus House (unbuilt), Isla Playa de Cléopâtre, Turkey, 2011
OMA / Rem Koolhaas for Vincent Gallo. Flat (unbuilt), Los Angeles, USA, 2005
Ora Ito for AIR. The House of Legend, Project designed for 10000 hz Legend album cover, 2001.
UR for Thomas Pesquet. UR is an architecture and city planning office based in Paris and Bordeaux, founded by Gaétan Brunet & Chloé Valadié. Involved in various projects and scales, the office develops a design culture which equally manipulates space, time and process as materials from an approach incorporating environmental and societal issues.
Image contains work that the villa Noailles has commissionned of two photographers for this exhibition. They shot an unreleased series on the Cupola. François Halard and Romain Courtemanche went to Sardinia in January 2020, one for the first time and the second to complete his series published by M Le Monde magazine in 2015.
Marc Leschelier for Jayne Mansfield. MARC LESCHELIER (1984) is an architect based in Paris and Milan. He is a teacher at the Paris-Malaquais School of Architecture and founder of the Unbuilt Archive, an archive specialised in Radical Architecture. During the year 2017-2018, he was a fellow at the Villa Medici in Rome..
Octave Perrault for Kylie Jenner. OCTAVE PERRAULT (1988) is an architect based in Paris. He co-founded the collective Åyr which worked on domesticity in the digital age. He is one of the curators of the series of exhibitions Cruising Pavilion devoted to gay sex, architecture and cruising cultures. He currently works at Dominique Perrault Architecture, in addition to his independent activities. In 2013 he graduated from the Architectural Association in London.
Barry Dierks for Maxine Elliott. Château de l’horizon, château de l’aurore, Golfe Juan, Vallauris, France, 1932
Adolf Loos for Joséphine Baker. House (unbuilt) Paris, France, 1927 / A Sequential Reconstruction by Stephen Atkinson, 1995.
Accattone for Greta Thunberg. ACCATTONE is an independent publishing project based in Brussels, founded in 2014 by the architects Sophie Dars (1983), Carlo Menon (1981), the graphic designers Ismaël Bennani (1987) and Orfée Grandhomme (1984), joined in 2019 by the architect Galaad Van Daele (1988). The publication explores minor practices in art and architecture through the specific means of the printed magazine. It has achieved international and academic recognition.
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