Newspaper article International New York Times

A Residence at Once Futuristic and Retro ; Pierre Cardin Is Selling His 'Architectural Folly' in the South of France

Newspaper article International New York Times

A Residence at Once Futuristic and Retro ; Pierre Cardin Is Selling His 'Architectural Folly' in the South of France

Article excerpt

The designer Pierre Cardin is selling his 13,000-square-foot "architectural folly," still regarded as cutting edge 30 years after it was built.

Emerging from a hillside in the south of France, Le Palais Bulles, or the Bubble Palace, resembles an eruption of volcanic lava. It is, in fact, a series of spherical, terra cotta-colored rooms that spill across a cliff at Theoule-sur-Mer, near Cannes. The house is a display of architectural rebellion and is still regarded as cutting edge, 30 years after it was built.

The Palais Bulles, which was constructed during the 1980s by the Hungarian architect Antti Lovag, is famous not just for its unusual shape but for being owned by the French couturier Pierre Cardin, who bought the property in 1991.

Mr. Cardin, who turns 94 on Saturday, has referred to the property as an "architectural folly," and he has used it as a showcase for his design talents and as a business opportunity. It is regularly rented to vacation groups for about 30,000 euros, or $33,200, a day, as well as for corporate events, such as fashion shows and movie release parties.

Constructed from a series of wire and mesh balls covered with concrete, the 1,200-square-meter, or nearly 13,000-square-foot, residence has 24 domes and resembles a cave or space dwelling. It is both futuristic and retro, very much influenced by the mid-20th- century "space age" design trend.

Mr. Lovag, who died in 2014, said he believed that curves were more natural to the environment than straight lines or angles, and he designed his buildings and furniture in a way that is often referred to as tactile and sensuous.

The Palais Bulles was initially built for the French industrialist Pierre Bernard, Mr. Lovag's friend and patron, and was a copy of a previous Lovag-designed house, Maison Bernard, also in Theoule-sur-Mer. When Mr. Bernard died, the house was purchased by Mr. Cardin.

According to the sales agent, Michael Zingraf, the local associate of Christie's International Real Estate, Mr. Cardin has never lived in the house. "He has another house nearby, so he only has spent occasional days here," he said. "He uses the Bubble Palace for entertaining and events, and has received some very famous people here. …

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