A haute couture building
These two people were destined to get on well. I’m talking about Frank Gehry and Bernard Arnault.
It is not exactly breaking news that the luxury industry is changing and diversifying. Nor is the fact that firms are now facing an increasingly difficult environment, marked by volatile currency exchange rates, or that there is uncertainty because of tensions in Hong Kong, Ukraine, Middle East, or even with contagious diseases like Ebola. All this is a threat for luxury firms that have hitherto managed to weather recent crises.
Today, success in the luxury sector is more about experiences and less about logos, more about intangibles and emotions for consumers who seek quality and craftsmanship, combined with a respect for the environment. But autumn is the season of promises, of regeneration, the arrival of something new, not just the arrival of winter, as Patrick Modiano once said in his book “In the café of lost youth”.
Coming back to the perception of the present, this October will bring with it a collaboration project that has all the makings of being a success from the start. These two people were destined to get on well. I’m talking about one of the greatest contemporary architects, Frank Gehry, and Bernard Arnault, President and CEO of leading luxury group LVMH. The idea is to launch the Louis Vuitton Foundation Center for Creation, in the form of a museum.
It all began in 2001, when Bernard Arnault visited the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao where he met Frank Gehry. Five years later, in October of 2006, the Foundation was launched, and eight years after that, the museum is now a reality. Arnault’s passion for architecture is evident. A hectare dedicated to art, to creativity and to design, which in the year 2062 will become the property of the city of Paris. The entrance fee is 14 euros, the same as the Louvre.
Frank Gehry, 85, and Bernard Arnaud, 65, have enough experience and talent between them to add, once again, to the leading position enjoyed by Paris in terms of architectural creativity. This project will by no means be the first explosion of creativity, given that it will follow ambitious architectonic projects like the Pompidou Centre, by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, or the extension of the Louvre, with its glass pyramid, by I. M. Pei. It will be yet another addition to the legacy of France and the world.
“Architecture is a daring dialogue between tradition and modernity which expresses the artistic vision of the Foundation”, says Bernard Arnault. Dedicated to contemporary art, the Louis Vuitton Foundation will permit many people to enjoy a multitude of artistic creations, and will strengthen LVMH’s commitment to the promotion of culture. Arnault has spent the last 10 years making the LVMH’s vision a reality.
Gehry’s followers know about his taste for fish shapes and his love of sailing and boats. The new museum has structure that is strong, but which also has delicate curves. A cloud for some, while others see a ship with a dozen sails. Located in the Paris’s Bois de Boulogne Park, in the west of the city, it houses an art collection that the company has managed to amass, with pieces from the 20th and 21st century, together with temporary exhibitions and an auditorium.
It is made of steel, glass and wood, and cost 135 million dollars to build. It covers a surface area of 126,000 square meters and has 11 different galleries, as well as terraces from which to appreciate panoramic views of the North of Paris. The proposal led to support and motivation for artistic creativity for both French and international talents. It is a museum that strengthens the connection that already exists between the Louis Vuitton group and contemporary art and design.
Bernard Arnault owns the largest fortune in France, estimated to stand at 27 billion euros, and the 15th largest fortune in the world according to the latest Forbes ranking. He will be back in the media spotlight on October 27, the date the Louis Vuitton Foundation Museum is set to open. The LVMH group ended 2013 with a 3.7% increase in profits, reaching 29.149 billion euros, up from 28.103 billion obtained the previous year. Having a museum that bears the same name as a cultural destination in Paris, can only be a good thing for the group’s brands.
The amazing architectural design and aesthetic quality of the museum will surely have major economic, social and urbanistic repercussions on its environment. This haute couture building is an architectonic experience that is there to be enjoyed.