There are houses built for the image they project outward. And there are those conceived to support the life inside. Argentinian architect Luis Laplace is of the second school. “I believe that form follows function, not beauty for the sake of it,” he explains one bright morning in his Paris studio. “I say I don’t know beauty. When I see that something works, then I see the beauty.”
That was the approach Laplace used for the French Alps vacation home he created for art collectors who wanted the family getaway, he explains, to “be playful and used easily by everyone.” Hence the practical and memorably stylish rubber-paneled mudroom, where skis can be propped against the walls without a moment’s hesitation.
At the same time, the chalet needed to accommodate the owners’ serious and, at times, monumental works of art. As always, this was Laplace’s starting point, a technique he has honed as one of the main architects for the Hauser & Wirth art galleries. “We never use art as a decoration,” he explains. “We design for its installation and rotation.”
Laplace was thrilled to learn of the wife’s affinity for color as well as the designs of Belgian fashion star Dries Van Noten. “I love how Dries treats texture and color,” the architect says. And while Laplace confesses that “it’s hard to put art in an area of color” (the reason many collections are displayed amid neutral palettes), “it’s doable.” Here he chose watery blues, golden yellows, and burnt oranges, hues he describes as “calm,” especially when “you see the snow through the big windows.”
The trickiest space to outfit with art, Laplace notes, was the glass-enclosed indoor swimming pool. Then he remembered that the clients owned a video work by Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist. He decided to install the projector above the pool, with the water serving as the screen—it was a terrific idea, and one that Rist so loved that she came to help.
“Now you can open the shutters and swim with the Alps,” Laplace observes. “Or you can close them, play her video, and swim in her universe.” He sits back and smiles. “It’s pretty cool.”
Architectural Digest | November 2017
Dana Thomas and Matthieu Salving