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For The Boys: MONDOBLOGO, Gaetano Pesce and Marc-André Hubin

[ED: This post is intended as a supplement to Patrick's previous post on Gaetano Pesce's 1986 Parisian apartment, created for Marc-André Hubin.

Additionally, I apologize for using the photographs taken by Elizabeth Heyert at the Paris home of Marc Hubin for her book METROPOLITAN PLACES without permission from the photographer. This was illegal and in violation of her copyright.

Elizabeth Heyert's work can be seen as follows:

http://www.elizabethheyert.com/archive/images/work ]

ABOVE: "The guest bedroom walls are zinc, "like Parisian roofs," according to Hubin. One enters the room through a very low doorway. The bed takes up most of the room, giving the illusion that someone managed to put a package, much to big to fit in the door, into the tiny room. The rigid "package" bedspread can be lifted mechanically, to become a canopy and reveal an ordinary bed underneath." [2]

ABOVE LEFT: Drawing of the luminous balustrade on the messanine; ABOVE RIGHT: Drawing of the bed cover. Col.: Marc-Andre Hubin, Paris [1]

"On Avenue Foch, in a building constructed during the thirties (a fine example of Art Deco architecture), Gaetano Pesce has restructured and furnished an apartment for Marc Andre Rubin, a photographer and collector of design objects.

Behind the conversion and decoration of this apartment lie a number of discoveries and encounters: the collector's recent enthusiasm for contemporary design, following after Japanese furniture of the thirties and the design of the fifties and sixties - especially the furniture of Molino; his admiration for the Sansone table; his meeting with Pesce in Milan, in 1985; the ghostly presence of Pablo Picasso, who painted several doors in the apartment that opened onto the upper floor; and finally, a small box in the form of a book that Pesce sent to Rubin from New York a short time before they first visited the apartment together (inside was the model of a brick wall, an evocation of a construction material that is both ancient and contemporary and an indication of first intentions). Like the five doors on the mezzanine floor Pesce designed shortly afterward, this small and enigmatic object reflects the approach that prevailed in the decoration of Rubin's apartment, an approach that started out with the detail, the incident, the fragment." [1]

ABOVE LEFT: Drawing of the guest room bed; ABOVE RIGHT: Plan of the main level and of the mezzanine. [1]

ABOVE: "The door to the right, designed to look like a vault, leads to a filing area. To the left is the low door to the guest bedroom. The drawings, by Pesce, were originally inspired by Picasso." [2]

ABOVE LEFT: Sketch of the fireplace; ABOVE RIGHT: Drawing of the bathroom door, on the mezzanine. [1]

"The project restructures the apartment in a simple way. It breaks down the divisions of the space, unifying it horizontally and vertically. It encloses the space with large expanses of smooth, white wall that punctuate, on the mezzanine level, the series of redesigned doors leading to a suite of service rooms and the large gaping hole giving onto the master bedroom. Punctual, fragmentary interventions qualify it: large sections of wall or floor, textured and colored, polarize it, while the various finishing elements tell a multitude of stories. At the foot of the walls, a plinth cut out of dark marble, contrasting with the travertine in the living room and the red synthetic facing of the mezzanine, outlines the silhouette of Venice. The doors, which are all framed by different drawings and have irregular, sometimes human shapes, speak of the activities that they protect, at times in an aggressive manner. The entrance door has heavy panels of Brazilian rosewood that are covered with bronze and studded, like the entrance to a public hall. The squat and trapeziform door of the upstairs guest room obstructs passage, forcing anyone using it to stoop; it gives access to a room that contains a large bed inserted in a piece of furniture faced with lead, a reminder of the roofs of Paris. The rigid bedspread resembles a gigantic parcel tied with string and is lifted off like a drawbridge by a system of cables and pulleys. The somber wall of the lounge beneath the mezzanine recalls Pesce's gift to Rubin: it is an irregular accretion of bricks and concrete against which is outlined the mantelpiece of the fireplace, a giant figure, a good-natured monster, the architectural ancestor of those little Star Wars figurines which have become familiar children's toys today. Another one can be found embedded in the wall alongside the entrance doorway. Pesce brought this object back from a walk through Paris, and some see it as a comment on the relationship established between the owner and the architect over the course of the work - a relationship at once close and distant, friendly and stormy. Rubin gave carte blanche to Pesce, who, on several occasions, abandoned his role as a designer to assume the mantle of the craftsman. Rere, as always, he entered into direct contact with the materials, cutting the plinths, casting the squares of colored urethane that break up the continuity of the marble facing that has been retained, finishing off the doors with drawings traced on the surrounding wall space, and even building some of the furnishings. Re completed the work begun by French and Italian craftsmen (many elements were made in Venetian workshops)." [1]

ABOVE: "All furniture in the apartment was designed by Gaetano Pesce. The chairs, made of resin and felt and bent by hand, were prototypes for Pesce's most recent furniture collection. Pesce used felt because "it has existed throughout civilization." The small table in the foreground is the prototype for Pesce's Samsone table, made by Cassina. The Egyptian head is from 500 B.C. The sideboard, faced with lead, and the light fixture are unique, designed by Pesce. The tricolor curtains are hand-painted by Hubin. The bedroom is visible through the back wall of the living room." [2]

ABOVE: "Shelves, screen, and chair are all Pesce designs. The wall painting is one of many unique tiny paintings found throughout the apartment, which, says Pesce, "create surprise and keep the architecture non-homogenous, non-coherant."" [2]

ABOVE: Details of the bookcase, on the mezzanine [1]

 ABOVE: Drawing of the laboratory door, on the mezzanine. [1]

"In the Parisian apartment created by the architect and designer Gaetano Pesce for his client Marc Hubin, a bed is wrapped like a brown paper parcel. Floor tiles are unexpectedly mirrored at random intervals. A door shaped like a hand stands only three feet high, forcing a visitor to crouch to enter the room beyond it. Walking on the mezzanine level, one is protected from falling over the edge only by narrow metal tubes with glass bulbs at the top, which seem to have sprouted along the border like avant-garde flowers. Slippery uncarpeted stairs have no hand rails. Chairs that look like soft, inviting shawls are actually hard, with strange sketches of unsmiling faces on some of them. "Like a city," says Gaetano Pesce, "the architecture within a home should always create surprise."

There is an exquisite logic behind Pesce's unique design for Hubin's apartment. "Function is important," he admits, "but if we can also express something, why not? Bed is always a surprise," he explains when asked about the hard shell which converts the bed in a guest bedroom into an anonymous package tied by rope. In bed, Pesce reasons, we never know what to expect. "Good dreams, bad dreams, no dreams, or will we sleep at all?" he asks. "And if someone else is there with us ... more surprises... . To Pesce, a wrapped and unmarked package, with no outside clue to its contents and no identifying decoration, symbolizes what we experience during the surprises of the night." [2]

ABOVE: Bed in the master bedroom. [1]

ABOVE: Door of the bedroom, on the mezzanine; ABOVE RIGHT: Detail of the guest room bed. [1]

"That Hubin's avant-garde apartment is located on one of the grandest, most conservative avenues on the Right Bank is an irony not lost on Pesce. The tricolor curtains on the windows of the huge living room were inspired by the proximity of the apartment to the Arc de Triomphe, which can be seen from an outside balcony. Pesce enjoys the relationship between the view and the architecture, and, as with every detail in the apartment, sees it as imbued with a meaning beyond the obvious. "We cannot just live with symbols," he insists. "A flag is important, but wouldn't it be better as something useful? Why not make a curtain out of it?" Pesce and Hubin recount with amusement that the curtain was seen by Paris soccer fans after a match one night when the painted fabric was hung outside the window to dry. The patriotic fans saw the curtain as a symbol of national pride, and soon a cheering crowd had gathered in front of Hubin's building." [2]


"Pesce worked with artisans in his native city of Venice to make the cabinets and doors for Hubin's apartment but he welcomed Hubin's participation, even in the craftsmanship. Hubin, who speaks of Pesce as though he were a brother, cut and installed the wooden moldings and painted the tricolor curtains. Pesce crafted and hand-painted the floor. Of Hubin he says, "He is still curious, which is rare today. The apartment is not mine but his, a fresh place, never boring." The last painting Pesce made in the apartment before its completion is a small airplane on the wall at the entrance. "It is a strange warrior symbol," he explains with a smile. "It represents a good fight, the give and take between the client and the designer.' The real challenge for Pesce was to express something different and original in each design. "For me," he says, "a work of art is merely a useful object with meaning."" [2]

ABOVE: The master bedroom, seen from the mezzanine, has a circular bed placed precariously close to the edge of the room. The room can be sealed from view by mechanized aluminum doors that work like the doors of a garage. The clock is unique, a prototype for a smaller verson by George Sowden. The portrait of Hubin, made by Pesce, was created by drawing on a iquid material that is then allowed to solidify. Pesce describes the process as "a fight with the material," because he must finish the drawing before it begins to harden.


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