The concept store Colette closed last December, a new artists’s store is born in the Marais : « A Rebours » inspired by Joris Karl Huysmans’ famous novel (Against the grain), a novelty store which is the tip of the icebeerg of the new Lafayette Anticipations Foundation. You will not find an art collection there but a building enlarged and renovated by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, which is meant to become the centre of « Branchitude » (trendiness) at the heart of the Marais. Everything is written in English only, it is a sign…
The café restaurant at the entrance of rue du Plâtre, is managed by Wild & the Moon, a well known nutritionists and naturopaths cantine, where everything is gluten free and organic, local and ethical. I had a « So green, keep it clean » juice and a banana cake which were very good.
In the store I spotted some washing gloves designed by British artist Wilma Johnson which sold for 60 € and very amusing Bic ball point pens, called « Faux Semblant », made especially for “A Rebours” by Saâdane Afif, laureate of the Marcel Duchamp prize. The colors of ink shown on the pen are not the real ones, so you never know which color you are writing in.
The Foundation is located between two streets, rue du Plâtre and rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie. It has Dries van Noten’s show room on one side and Centre Pompidou, a block away. When I asked why everything was written only in English, I was told that the Marais is so International that it made sense…
What Rem Koolhaas did is cover the courtyards between the two streets and turn the whole block into a four stories tower of 2 200 sq meters with transversal light through the whole structure. The main feature is a very large platform, going up and down according to the height and space needed for exhibitions. Koolhaas had already designed one for the Museum Modern Art which wa snot built. I guess it is modelled on the platform he created for the Lemoine house in Floirac, near Bordeaux, exactly twenty years ago and it is a fascinating invention of course.
The building process in these 19 th century premises took three years and it was hard work as witnessed Clément, Rem Koolhaas’ assistant on the project. Galvanised steel and power coated steel, blue stainless steel in the lifts, anodized aluminum, brushed pine, translucid tinted resin, all materials are super sophisticated and beautiful. But what I liked most wreathe details and graphic signs.
There is no exhibition so to speak at the moment but a large video, « The Silence of the Sea » by Lutz Bacher projected on three floors.
When I was telling you earlier about the tip of the iceberg, it was an image for the core purpose of the building. Its most important center is underground where artists will be able to produce and experiment in the fields of contemporary art, fashion and design. It is financed by Galeries Lafayette and its President, Guillaume Houzé, is determined to work on the future of art not on its past.
There will be three to four exhbitions every year including works in progress. It is conceived primarily as a meeting place on the ground floor which is free and open to all. Thus the trendy bar and shop.
It opens on March 10 th and only the future will tell whether it is mostly a successful social space and/or truly an art lab. (Lafayette Anticipations, 9 rue du Plâtre, Paris 4, closed on Tuesdays)
A the end of the year, Galeries Lafayette will open its new store on the Champs Elysées in the spot of the former Virgin Megastore. It is designed by Danish architects BIG, the Bjarke Ingels group, disciples of Rem Koolhaas…
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