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