designer digs | pierre cardin
Antti Lovag was ‘rebelling against right angles’ when he began building the renowned Palais Bulles in the 1975.
In the 1960s, Pierre Cardin was part of a new wave of French designers whose sci-fi take on design helped propel fashion into the cosmos. His clothes were cut in geometric shapes to stand away from the body and featured cut-outs, appliqués, and motifs in man-made, techy materials drawn from his love of science.
So it’s understandable that Cardin would be so enamored with Palais Bulles (Bubble Palace) that he bought it at auction in 1989. Taking over a decade to construct (from 1975 and 1989), it’s surprising that Cardin wasn’t involved at all in its creation, for it appears custom-made for the futurist fashion pioneer. It was actually built by Hungarian architect Antti Lovag, who detested straight lines and angles, calling them ‘an aggression against nature’. Perched within the Massif de L’Esterel along the French Riviera, there is not a single corner in the entire Palais, which is more like a series of interconnected terra cotta spheres molded out of concrete. And yet, for as futuristic as the joint looks, the Palais was inspired by cave dwellings and designed to elicit tranquility and flow. ‘Whether for economic reasons or lack of technical solutions,’ Lovag once remarked, ‘human beings have confined themselves to cubes full of dead ends and angles that impede our movement and break our harmony.’ This ease of flow philosophy is not unlike Cardin’s 60s designs, whose silhouettes allowed for freedom of movement.
The living quarters spans nearly 13,000 square feet and there are multiple pools and gardens scattered over the acreage (there is even a 500 seat amphitheater overlooking the Mediterranean). From afar, it looks both like some odd structure that has landed outer space, but also very natural and organic, as if it’s been carved out of the mountain side. Circular windows dot the estate, like port holes from an underwater submarine. Inside, there is indeed a cavern-like mood, a maze of curved staircases and tubular hallways connecting pods furnished with circular beds and sofas. Over-the-years, the space has been often used for festival parties (it’s not far from Cannes), photo shoots, and fashion events; Christian Dior’s Resort 2016 collection was shown here. Cardin, now 94, no longer spends much time at the Bubble Palace, so he put the property up for sale last year for $355 million. It’s still on the market, so if you’ve got some extra cash laying around, this amazing space can be yours.
Pierre Cardin space age design (1968)
Images via PalaisBulles.com, Wire Image, and Alamy