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Thanks to Louis Vuitton, the American public is about to learn more about one of France’s pioneering figures in architecture and design: Charlotte Perriand, whose timeless furnishings and better-living-via-design ethos still resonate.
During the Design Miami fair, the French luxury group is to unveil La maison au bord de l’eau (house by the shore, in English), a U-shaped beach house conceived in 1934 yet never realized until now.
“I don’t think it’s ever been done before,” Michael Burke, Vuitton’s chairman and chief executive officer, said of the retro building project. “It’s a nice way of paying homage to one of the first modern designs of the 20th century.”
Meticulously constructed in Italy according to Perriand’s sketches, the structure was shipped by boat to Florida, where it will go on display from today through Saturday on the beach fronting the Raleigh Hotel.
In tandem, Perriand posthumously inspired Vuitton’s summer 2014 Icônes fashion collection, designed by women’s studio director Julie de Libran and just shipped to some 100 Vuitton stores, including its temporary location in the Miami Design District.
The project will culminate in January with Perriand-inspired windows at Vuitton’s 468 boutiques worldwide.
The fair has attracted several other luxury brands that return each year, offering their own design sensibilities. Fendi will repeat at Design Miami for the sixth consecutive year in a collaboration with the French designer Maria Pergay, who has created an installation of unique furniture pieces. Berluti commissioned four pieces from the designer Maarten Baas, including a chaise lounge, to be unveiled at the house’s Design District store.
Swarovski, another regular at the South Florida bacchanal that is now in its sixth year as the main sponsor of Design Miami, this time asked the Brazilian designer and architect Guilherme Torres for its annual installation, the “Crystal Palace.” Christian Louboutin and the curator Xavier Laboulbenne are exhibiting five sculptures made with untreated leather by the artist Carmelo Tedeschi. Maison Martin Margiela tapped the French artist Baptiste Debombourg to create — yet another — “exclusive installation” for its Miami store. And Jeff Koons’ limited-edition collaboration with Dom Pérignon is getting another toast with a party at the W South Beach that’s one of the more coveted invitations of the week.
As for Vuitton, like a Basel-long Brigadoon, the minimal house of iroko wood slats and a marine blue roof really comes to life installed in the Raleigh’s sandy oasis. The airy, spartan rooms display the 2014 Icônes collection like someone actually lives there — a checkered sun hat and curled orange belt on a shelf, a leather jacket laid across the bed, more items hanging in built-in cupboards from where trundle beds emerge.
In a way, it’s very much how a real estate agent might stage a home for sale, which it is, incidentally, privately through Sotheby’s. Since protective booties hadn’t been supplied yet, art collectors like Aby Rosen and Jose Mugrabi already were touring it barefoot Monday before its public unveiling.