The apartment 50 remains an “Historical Monument” in the collective memory of the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille. Italian architect and designer Alessandro Mendini has become the latest designer to restyle the apartment 50 in the Unité d’Habitation of Le Corbusier, one of the most influential Brutalist buildings of all time. With this project, called Corbu, 8 Colours, Alessandro Mendini has interpreted the space of this unique apartment with a great sensitivity and poetry. His work will interact with the Original Equipments of Charlotte Perriand and Le Corbusier, as a sign of colorful and friendly tribute. The apartment has previously been fitted out by designers including Jasper Morrison (2008), Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec (2010), Konstantin Grcic (2013), Pierre Charpin (2014) and l’ECAL – Ecole Cantonale d’art de Lausanne (2015).
Description by Alessandro Mendini: Finally I have the wonderful occasion to render homage to Le Corbusier with my delicate “performance” inside the famous Appartement 50 at the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille. I was invited by the attentive and kind landlord Jean-Marc Drut, the faithful custodian of this precious small monument, a utopian document of the perfect habitation.
I was stimulated by the spaces and the brilliant play of light, in addition the master’s use of color – warm, pictorial and essential to our sensorial enjoyment of the apartment. I selected eight colors similar to the ones he chose, and I made eight ceramic totems, each one painted with one of the eight colors. I positioned them on the railing that looks out over the living room below, with the aim of creating a diaphragm that acts on the modulation of sunlight. Then, with diagonal ribbons, I intersected the rhythm of the double-height wall panels, thinking to add a Japanese touch to the modular boiserie, which is similar to vertical tatamis.
A Nepalese rug brings figurative expression to the living area, and adds its tragic story linked to last year’s earthquake in Katmandu. All the normal furniture of the apartment has been left in place, including the paintings and documents belonging to Le Corbusier that are always present here. Finally, in the magic of the two blue niches side by side, almost like Wunderkammern, I have placed some small polychrome objects to which I am particularly attached. I call this display of mine a “performance”, because throughout its duration, it will be a presence acting with visitors to the apartment, favoring and accentuating their reading of it.
Apartment 50 is owned by Jean-Marc Drut and Patrick Blauwart, who live in the space. Every summer since 2008 they have invited a designer or studio to overhaul the interior, and invited members of the public to come and look inside. The apartment will be open to the public from July 15th untill August 13th. Photography is by Philippe Savoir and Fondation Le Corbusier / ADAGP.
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