Maison Louis Carré by Alvar Aalto
On your birthday you get to choose what you want to eat or do, right? Well, I know I do! The night before my sister and I baked a delicious Challah loaf and made Labneh. But before enjoying that feast on the "big" day, we were headed to a place that has been on my list for a while now: the Maison Louis Carré in Bazoches-sur-Guyonne, 40km south west of Paris. In Helsinki we got to visit Alvar Aalto's studio and as you know, I loved it, so a visit to the only remaining building by Alvar Aalto building here in France, was a must.
At the end of a road in a residential area, we found this amazing building designed by Finnish designer Alvar Aalto for French art dealer and collector, and friend, Louis Carré. The maison is situated on the top of a mini-hill that Louis Carré purchased in 1955. He met Alvar Aalto at the Venice Biennale where the architect was working on the 1956 Finnish Pavillion, and they became friends. Monsieur Carré asked Alvar Aalto to build him a private home for him and his wife Olga, where he could also display his art and host small exhibitions and events. Apparently he had a "nearly" unlimited budget to build something wonderful, which he did, yet in a typical Alvar Aalto style of understated, pure design. You can feel (and see!) that no detail was ignored. The Maison Carré was completed in 1959 and the swimmingpool with ajacient poolhouse on the same property was finished a few years later, in 1963.
One of the things that I like most in Alvar Aalto's work, is his eye for form and function, not only in the construction of his buildings, but also in the furniture that he designed for all of his projects, that are usually "part of the deal". His pendant lights are not only beautiful to look at, they also have a fonction, in case of this Bilberry pendant light, it was designed to work as a spotlight for art:
Until September 3rd 2017, there is an exhibition at the Maison Louis Carré, called La politesse de Wassermann by Laëtitia Badaut Haussmann, which I found to be in a complete contrast with the building itself: it emphasises the extraordinary/insane things that could have happened at the Maison, through references like Hugh Hefner (the texts on the windows and the silver silk sheets on the beds) and others. While I don't grab the entire idea and story of this exhibition (more about it here if you like), I found it quite daring to install such a bold exhibition in such an understated home. And at some points it creates an interesting dynamic:
One of the bedrooms with a view over the garden:
One of my favorite pieces in the house: the Bell pendant lights above the dining table with extra spots to highlight the artwork on the walls!
Love this color combination of offwhite, dusty pink and brick red:
One of the bedrooms, with a temporary installation by Laëtitia Badaut Haussmann:
Louis Carré died in 1977, and his wife Olga, lived in the house until 2002. Many of the original artwork was then sold, but the old photos in the bedroom show what the interior really looked like, several decades ago, and the view over the countryside:
Another part of the exhibition that I completely didn't understand, but that I quite liked: it's a Sunday Night Pool Party waiting to happen, right?!
Unfortunately the first floor is not open to the public, it used to be the housing of the staff and has not been renovated (yet):
Si Non Oscillas Noli Tintinnare on the left window: if you don't swing, don't ring. A reference to the Play Mansion:
Why redesign a chimney, if you can use your own lamp-designs, turn them upside down, and use this instead! The chimney on the roof is actually inspired by Aalto's A110 pendant lights:
The garden was designed as the ideal backdrop for many garden parties:
And the most recently renovated part of the property: the swimming pool and poolhouse, with some very beautiful garden lights, designed by Alvar Aalto himself, bien sûr:
And there, in that fitting room, if you look closely: does your eye see what I see?
Exactly, a bunch of eyeballs. Also part of the exhibition. Usually they float on the water in the pool, but the staff didn't have time to put them in the pool again, after a big photoshoot at the Maison Carré the day before.
Overall I warmy recommend to visit the Maison Louis Carré if you ever have the chance. Make sure to make a reservation for a guided tour (it's the only option!) and enjoy the only remaining building of Alvar Aalto in France. And while you're in Bazoches, head to the other side of the road for a visit of the Jean Monnet house and enter a completely different world. And if you're lucky like me, you get treated to some fresh challah loaf with labneh and pancakes when you get home ;)
Maison Louis Carré /// 2 chemin du Saint-Sacrement /// 78490 Bazoches-sur-Guyonne
Open Saturdays and Sundays from 14 to 18 by guided tour only. Advanced booking required, more information here.
Urban Jungle Bloggers #36
The thing I like most with the Urban Jungle Bloggers topics is that they challenge me to try something new. Like with the previous New Beginnings topic where I grew even more cuttings in laboratorium glassware. And today's Tropicool topic is no exception!
Tropicool to me means wavy palmtrees, cocktails, tropical fruits like pineapple and watermelon, high humidity and sunshine. And maybe even bright pink inflatable flamingos ;) I don't own anything flamingo, but I do have a comfy hammock chair, a 19th birthday gift from Robert, that I rarely used because somehow I never found the right tree. It's the perfect chair for today's tropicool nook!
From all the 27 rooms in our home, this is probably one of the places where I never "did something": it's the small area near our pretty staircase. I wish I could plant some leafy Philodendrons in the planter on top of the wall permanently, but they're toxic to cats... Love their aerial roots!
Unfortunately no one can chill in the hanging chair, because my "very stylish" construction is too fragile for anything heavier than a yellow throw:
I love this combination of two different Philodendrons in one Voltasol pot! The larger Philodendron is a gift from the thriftshop guy and the smaller one is a cutting I brought from Italy. It looks so cosy:
Did you know you can easily grow a plant from the top of a pineapple? Chop off the top and eat the fruit. Then remove the lower leaves from the top. The first time I did this I thought there were worms in between the leaves! But these are the beginnings of the roots of the new plant!
Urban Jungle Bloggers is a seasonal series hosted by 2 bloggers: Igor (Happy Interior Blog) and Judith (JOELIX.com). Every month we share ideas to create an urban jungle through styling ideas, DIYs and green tips & tricks. You can find additional inspiration on our Urban Jungle Bloggers Pinterest board and keep up-to-date via Facebook or Instagram. Want to join? Find out how on our website and use #urbanjunglebloggers on twitter and instagram. Let's bring some green into our homes and blogs!
► For more Tropicool stylings, check out the gallery!
My seven sins of living in vtwonen
This month I'm in the Jungle Fever issue of vtwonen magazine! Theo-Bert shared his Seven Sins of Living in May's issue, and this June it was my turn. I was interviewed by Monique van der Pauw about lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride... but with a home & living touch. You can read the feature HERE, but if you don't read Dutch, let me tell you a little bit about my sins!
The first sin is gluttony and it couldn't be more obvious: I mean there's never enough plants in my life! I grew up in a home with a lot of plants everywhere. I recently saw pictures of what our livingroom looked like and there were plants everywhere: on the table, chairs, floor and in front of the window. Which means I basically grew up in an urban jungle. As a teenager I had a Saturday-job at a garden center, but my love for plants truly sparked after a visit of the Jardin Exotique in Monaco. I brought home some cactus cuttings from that same holiday and the thrived at home, so I collected more and more plants. And when talking to Igor about that in 2013, we realized we had a mutual love for plants and decided to show them on our blogs. This monthly series turned into a community of plant lovers called Urban Jungle Bloggers. And the rest is history!
The second sin is envy and I definitely envy people that constantly re-decorate their home. I love testing new paint colors, and using new accessories and my plants travel throug our entire house, but that's about it. I'm attached to my stuff and spaces and use most things until it breaks down or looks too scruffy. Like our giant couch. I really envy folks with a nice large couch and I've been looking to purchase a new one from Fest Amsterdam or Muuto. Robert and I don't like the exact same interior style, he's more into primary colors, but I really like pink and green too.
Lust is obviously about our new bathroom that we built ourselves. After years of a temporary and cold shower cabin (and showering with frozen shower gel), I love our new bathroom. My best ideas pop up when having a nice hot shower. You can read more about our bathroom renovation HERE.
The fourth sin of sloth is about cleaning our home in Photoshop. I'm not lazy, but cleaning is not my hobby. Especially in a big home like ours (with 27 rooms) it's a never-ending story. And because I take a lot of photos for my blog and Instagram, I sometimes clean in Photoshop! I'm also really good at doing really nothing, just messing around in the house, read, Instagram, go for a run or take care of my plants, which completely relaxes me. Oh and junkhunting! Never enough new containers for my planties!
Anger... grrr I don't like bad products, fake design, throw-away stuff. Mankind doesn't need more real junk! I'm not a true design-junkie either and don't buy specific designers-only. But I love well-made, beautiful, good design. When I see yet another Vitra copy I think: come on, come up with something yourself! We own a few design pieces that we have had for years, Alessi cutlery, a Pastoe cupboard, an Arco dining table. They are still beautiful after all these years! Changing your interior doesn't have to be expensive, you can find the best stuff second hand too! And be more environmentally responsable.
I'm not extremely greedy and don't need a lot of stuff. As a little girl my sister usually spent her pocket money easily. I always saved it, not even with a specific goal. Robert tells me to buy stuff every now and then and just do it! And I do and love the things I buy. In general I prefer spending my money on traveling and visiting family and friends. Of course I do love beautiful things that I would love to have. And when I do, I pin it to my "Wishful thinking, a virtual wishlist with beautiful products that I love, but not particularly need" Pinterest board! Sometimes I simply appreciate watching at all of that beauty!
Pride, it's Pride month! No seriously, when I think of pride & living, I think about our home, which is quite different than a regular home. It's a large industrial office building in Le Corbusier style, modern and open, designed by French architect Carl André. We already lived in the village when we passed by the building on a Sunday walk in 2004. It was abandoned and wild, but we loved it! It included a laboratory, a meeting room and lots of office space. In the CEO's room we found a little button that allowed the CEO to listen to what was going on in the meeting room! Quirky, right?! That same room is now our cinema room. It's a pleasant home not too far from Paris, where I visit for work and friends regularly. Discover new areas of the city, new cafés and boutiques. It feels like a luxury to live in a spacious home, yet so close to Paris.
Merci vtwonen for the wonderful opportunity to share a little bit more about my home & life! Oh and about vtwonen: stay tuned for more very soon! Have a nice Friday everyone!
mini guide Brussels
When visiting our family in Holland, we always (always!) pass by Brussels. And in fifteen years we never ever stopped there. Which turned out, is a pity because Brussels is a sweet and diverse city, well worth a visit.
Igor and I were in Bruxelles recently to promote our book and to host a plant hanger workshop and had an extra day to explore. There were quite a few places that I really loved (and want to revisit on our next trip to Holland!) that go well beyond Manneken Pis, chocolate and beer. So here we go with some of the places you don't want to miss on your next citytrip to Bruxelles, Brussel, or just Brussels.
By the way, I still have no clue which language you're supposed to speak in Brussels. Speaking English seemed safer than French or Dutch, because the Bruxellois would either be insulted by Dutch or by French and reply in a different language. As long as you understand each other, it's OK, but it felt confusing either way.
► I'm still dreaming of the iced coffee I had at Aksum, an Ethiopian coffee house, not far from the Grand Place. My number one reason to go back to Brussels, and I'm not even a coffee-addict. Warmly (or ice-coldly ;) ) recommended!
► The prettiest plant shop in Brussels: BRUT. A real jungle vibe, with lots of pink grow lights, lush plants and vintage rattan furniture. We created an entire blogpost about Brut on Urban Jungle Bloggers if you like to take a look inside. Next time I also want to visit their newly opened sister-boutique La Pharmacie with more vintage & plants.
► Good design and vintage shopping in the Rue Blaes, including Atat and Welcome Gallery with some very nice Calder-inspired stabiles!
► The glazed shopping arcade Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert is a bit touristy (check the first picture above), but there are a few nice design and interior shops inside and... Meert ;) Need I say more?!
► Forget waffles with too many toppings: go to Aux Merveilleux de Fred for a raisin cramique. Super soft fluffy bread with raisins. Or indulge in his merveilleux.
► Dinner at La Cantina Brasil for nice brasilian food in a kitschy jungle decor. Not tested, but I was recommended to have dinner at Jour de Fête.
► On Sunday, wake up early to visit the Marché du Midi, the fruit and flower and plant market near the Bruxelles Midi trainstation. It is huge and has so many beautiful flowers, very cheap houseplants and the most wonderful fruit en veggies. If you visit at the end of the market day, at around 13:30, you can find the best bargains.
► If you woke up early to visit the market and did some grocery shopping, or maybe even adopted a new plant, walk towards the Marolles area, just south from the Marché du Midi. On the Place du Jeu de Balle, there's a large Sunday fleamarket where you can find anything from complete tourist traps, to the best vintage finds ever. I found it to be rather inexpensive, the vendors were willing to negotiate and easier than the French folks at the vide greniers we usually visit here in France.
► fter (or before!) a stroll around the fleamarket: go for Sunday brunch at Chaff, great for people watching as it's right along the brocante square.
Do you have more Brussels tips? I can't wait to go back, have a nice Aksum coffee, a cramique and for some more junkhunting at the Place du Jeu de Balle ;)
Plants and colors
Today I get to blog with a group of French interior bloggers: le collectif de blogueurs Project Inside! They asked me to be their guest blogger this month and bien sûr I said yes: I mean the topic couldn't be a better match: "Les Plantes et les couleurs" (Plants & Colors). Both inspire me so much every day!
What I wanted to show you is that when you think of "plants" you almost immediately think of greenery and the color green. But there are quite a few houseplants that have the most wonderful non-green colors. They can add that unexpected pop of color to your interior and brings out the green in your other plants as a contrasting color.
I decided to gather them on my plantshelfie and actually I have more of them than I expected: quite a few Tradescantia pallida, purple heart plants as they grow so fast and easy, a Tradescantia zebrina that I brought home from Finland as a cutting, the beautiful Oxalis (a gift from Morgane), the Stromanthe triostar, which is actually very red-ish from the back (I turned it around for the photo), a Ludisia jewel orchid (a gift from Caroline), the Euphorbia trigona rubra that has this weird green burgundy color and the backside of the Begonia maculata which is red:
The flipside of the Marantha triostar is almost neon pink in some areas:
So tell me: do you own any colorful houseplants? Or do you prefer the fresh green "neutrals"?
Read more Plants & Colors blogposts on the blogs of these French blog ladies from Project Inside:
Atelier Rue Verte /// Regards & Maisons /// Lovers of Mint /// Mariekke /// Ilaria Fatone /// Interior Crisp
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