Nina Yashar’s genius and raw instinct for top-level design transform 15 rooms of the historical Hôtel de Miramion in Paris in a succession of sensitive galleries: with furnishings by Ponti, Albini, Vigorelli and Sarfatti, and works of art by John Bock, Beloufa and Djurberg.
The frenzied pace of the artistic production on show during FIAC week both inside and outside the Grand Palais, and the fitful events-based activities permeating the city’s fabric make the mood and precious surroundings created for Spot 2013 all the more exclusive.
Yes, we have the centuries-old charm of a special venue, the Hôtel de Miramion, a longstanding presence on the Christie’s Real Estate sales lists but, most importantly, the experience of Squat 2012, and its ephemeral interiors that transformed a 400 sqm bourgeois residence into a chic Parisian quarter, last year.
Now, Nina Yashar’s genius and raw instinct for top-level design, which makes no distinctions between places, dates and trends, has shattered the rigid discipline of the French interior – not to conscientiously present educated pieces or interact with the décor but to embark on another very special adventure that is exhibition and curatorial experiment in one.
The Milanese gallery-founder, aided by the precise scouting of other well-informed gallery owners such as Daniele Balice (Balice/Hertling) and Giò Marconi, decided to occupy not simply a property but a piece of Parisian history, 1000+ sqm under the protection of the Fine Arts Service that have witnessed the coming and going of all and sundry – pious female followers of St Vincent de Paul, Madame de Sevigné, the pharmacy of the foundling hospital and a weapons factory during the French revolution – before, finally, being added to the list of city monuments.
Until November, the facade, garden and painted ceilings of this jewel overlooking the Quai de Tournelle will be the setting for a special notion of the contemporary exhibition. An alphabetic list of the designers and artists present would constitute a mega-production: Albini to Vigorelli, passing via Ponti and Sarfatti, to name but a few.
Not to mention the artistic contributions, with pieces by Picabia and Hans Belmerr, mixed carefully and with inflexible conceptuality. In a succession of sensitive galleries, delightful drawings by John Bock, unsure-looking structures by Beloufa and videos by Nathalie Djurberg transform 15 rooms with names that might have been coined by Mollino – such as the Salon du Plaisir, or that of conversation – but that, alone, could not describe this exquisite parade of uniqueness.
It starts with Beloufa’s mini-theatre/seating dominating the courtyard before you enter a Shigeru Ban tea-house from 2006. Those who survive this visual earthquake will rediscover some uneasy peace in the textures of Tokujin Yoshioka’s chair-sculpture and the light provided by Sarfatti and Albini’s lamps.
Next come a few references to the Orient, as only Yashar can do: a lovely Pompeian room with Luci a parete by Melchiorre Bega and a great deal of Ponti delightfully mixed with the irony of Martino Gumper. Then, splendid lacquered tables by Isabelle Cornaro and fantastic suspension lamps by Paavo Tynel.
The magical natural treatment of Nordic light by the most sophisticated Finnish light designer is blended with the under-glass arrangements by the French artist. In a play on the meaning and doctrine of decoration, the colours and balance of a 19th-century Tibetan rug seem revisited when combined with a glass Gio Ponti desk.
All is composed or hyper-composed in these interiors, which resemble a succession of acid mandalas and will soon disappear into the Intimist decor of some private collection. In this their public form, however, they are extremely convincing. It is a lesson in detox from slick taste. If we forego our desire for possession and internalise a raw passion for beauty, then this operation that incorporates worlds can conjure up a Sergei Parajanov or an Ingmar Bergman.
We would love to live our daily lives surrounded by such elementary opulence and not have to see it as a purely curatorial exercise. That would make the contemplative dimension of this environment more than a practical manual and seen as the difference between living and inhabiting.
22 October – 12 November 2013
Hôtel de Miramion
47 Quai de la Tournelle, Paris