A Week in Provence
More mod than Mayle, the Domaine des Andéols is a French villa hotel built by Jean-François Bodin
Lanie Goodman -- Interior Design, 1/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
Glimpsed from the country road that winds through this corner of southern France, the Domaine des Andéols could be mistaken for a centuries-old Provençal hamlet of stone houses with red-tiled roofs. The scene inside those houses, however, is entirely different. Compositions of modern furnishings and contemporary art, seven of the buildings are guest villas for this luxury hotel; two other structures house the hotel's restaurant and spa.
Olivier Massart, founder of trendy Parisian fashion-events company La Mode en Images, inherited the 74-acre hillside property from his sculptor grandfather. There wasn't much there at the time, barely more than a pigpen, a barn, and a pair of stone houses. But in the entrepreneurial vision of Massart and his wife, Patrizia, the landscape showed potential as a place to welcome friends and colleagues as well as paying guests.
To convert the Provençal farm into a high-style village, the Massarts hired Bodin & Associés Architectes, a firm known for museum renovations. The Domaine des Andéols project would involve transforming the property's two existing houses as well as building additional villas, the restaurant, the spa, an orangerie, and four pools and decks—all to be completed in accordance with the strict regulations that govern construction in the Parc du Luberon.
"Traditional character has to be maintained on the exteriors. The game was to make everything look as if it had been there forever," explains principal Jean-François Bodin, who brought in a general contractor that specializes in historic monuments, using methods unchanged over 200 years. "When you respect the old-fashioned techniques, it gives you a certain direction—it guides the pencil." It might determine the slope of a roof, for example, or inspire a row of tiny backlit porthole windows tucked under the eaves, like Provençal nesting spots for turtledoves.
Interiors evolved along the way. "Originally, all the floors were supposed to be cement tinted white, ocher, or gray with natural pigments," admits architect Nathalie Villers, ' who assisted Bodin on the project. "As we progressed, some of the villas got a resin floor instead, because we couldn't cover up all the joints." Resin colors range from bright white to electric blue, in accordance with the villas' varying themes.
In the Maison Rouge, you dine on Louis XVI–style chairs, their classic silhouettes updated by bright red patent-leather upholstery. After-dinner lounging takes place on a swoopy scarlet sofa by Ron Arad. Upstairs, the master bedroom's headboard, lacquered crimson, is a tongue-in-cheek take on the lid of a steamer trunk, tipped on its side. The body of the trunk functions as an armoire.
Comparatively minimalist are the multilevel Maison des Cascades, with its pistachio-green Isamu Noguchi sofa, and the high-ceilinged Maison Blanche, where the veins in the marble of a Florence Knoll dining table are almost the only departures from the all-white theme. You might hesitate before plunking down your suitcase on the master bedroom's ostrich-feathered chair, but style occasionally overrides practicality here. (That's also true for the angular cement bathtubs, which celebrate brutalist rigor while defying human anatomy.)
In the wackiest villa, the Maison des Voyageurs, the ocher-painted living room presents a safari tableau complete with a live palm tree, a faux zebra-skin rug, and a daunting stuffed ' Bengal tiger. Seating verges on the surreal—buffalo horns serving as legs for both an armchair covered in pony skin and a settee in the form of a giant tortoise shell. A Nigerian craftsman built the fireplace out of compacted clay, pebbles, and straw.
"My own favorite," confides Olivier Massart, "is the Maison des Amoureux." This duplex love nest boasts such playful touches as a Salvador Dalí–esque lip-shape sofa and Helmut Newton's 66-pound Sumo monograph, displayed on its Philippe Starck stand by the fireplace. A David Bailey photograph of Cecil Beaton hangs above the staircase up to the bedroom, which overlooks a romantic vista of vineyards, lavender fields, cypress trees, and the tiny village of Saint-Saturnin-lés-Apt.
The villas' eclectic furnishings, paintings, and photography represent the Massarts' 20-year love affair with collecting. Asked about wear and tear on so many valuable objects, Olivier Massart responds with a shrug. "Art should be shared," he says. "I never saw the point in keeping it private."