vente-privee: Le Vérone, l’arte e l’intervista a J.A. Granjon
Working surrounded by art, making it accessible to all, to instill inventiveness and improve life quality. This is the goal of the learned Jacques-Antoine Granjon, General Manager and establisher of vente-privee when conceiving the Le Vérone. The design is result of a partnership between Pucci De Rossi and architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte. The facade is inspired by Marseille’s Mucem museum, a city dear to Granjon. The unique museum was designed by Rudy Ricciotti. The east façade is made of high-performance fiber-reinforced concrete latticework, a second, 1 meter distant covering whose pattern evokes Pucci de Rossi’s drawing. Technical design was by engineering consultant Guillaume Lamoureux et Romain Ricciotti, who created 87 tailor-made modules, supported by diagonal metal braces. This includes 150 LED nodes that during the night illuminate the net, enlivening it with digital effects. A 102 sq.mt – the biggest in Europe – built-in high-definition screen projects artworks. Concerning the architectural project, the central core was renovated, the open spaces preserved and party walls eliminated. Between the ground and first floor, the concrete is cut with a diamond saw to provide the entrance hall with a wider space, hosting a reception desk designed by Ron Arad, many paintings and stunning lighting systems. The interior design is finished with industrial-taste materials: concrete (raw or painted) on floors and walls; opaque, sound-proof black painting on the ceilings, polished stainless steel, and wood covering. Many of the products were designed by Stadio Wilmotte: Insolit spolights, 544 Grafa hanging light fixtures by Artemide (firstly installed in a building, in special edition, in black color), the built-in Linealuce by iGuzzini, and ‘Aloa’ lamps by EClatec.
Following the interview at Jacques-Antoine Granjon.
The new building in Saint-Denis looks like a museum: there are a lot of works by artists, sculptors and designers. Why is art so important in a workplace? Could you explain your idea of art in the center of the city? “At the beginning, it was just because I had space on the walls and had a lot of art. I always put art in my buildings and my office spaces. And then you understand that art becomes part of your life because it presents a different way of seeing things. It poses questions, and I think you feel more secure when you work in a place where there is art and poetry of art. So it is a question of mood, there is no special goal we are trying to achieve. We love artists, and that’s it. As for the concept of art at the center of the city: everybody lives his or her life, everybody works, but we all need an escape, but escape is not only through travel or reading, it is visual, tactile experience. Art is a very good “smoother” of your heart and emotions, of your feelings and the way you live. So there should be sculptures in public spaces, there should be nice buildings. I believe that it is very important to place beautiful things in people’s lives; it makes people feel good. And it should be for every social class, art should not be only for rich people who can pay, because, yes although art has always been very expensive, it should be accessible to everyone.
The building itself becomes art with Pucci De Rossi’s facade. How did the idea originate? Can you describe this spectacular facade? “There is a similar façade in Marseille, and I like the fact that it was like a little castle, a fortress at the entrance of the harbor of Marseille; and our building is the same, you come from the north of Europe and you arrive here in Paris and you have a fortress welcoming you. My friend Pucci, the architect, he heard me talking about building a new headquarters, and he called me after a few days and said, “I’ve done something for you,” and we worked very closely last year to finish the project. Last year he had cancer, and I was very close to him, we built a lot of things, a lot of furniture and etc., all very much in a hurry because we knew he was going to die. And the last time I talked to him, it was at two o’clock in the morning, and I had told him please do the V&P a little bit differently, and he said he understood and would send me an e-mail. And then he died at six in the morning. So because we worked so closely, that’s why we were able to finish the project and do it exactly the way he wanted. Our façade has a screen and we change the projection of digital art every day. Every day we show something different. We are very famous in France, but not so much in Italy. The fact that in France we have buildings and warehouses for which we can do “advertising by residence,” but don’t have buildings in other countries means we don’t have this kind of notoriety in other countries. When it is in our own country where the journalists are very interested in what we do, it works well. In Italy, doing advertising by residence takes much more effort to get any visibility. But this strategy works very well in France.”
Can you tell me about your collaboration with Ron Arad? “Ron Arad, this table right here is actually the table that I bought in 1994, which means almost 25 years ago. I have a lot of pieces by Ron Arad, so what you saw in the building is the bench from a very famous gallery in New York that sells Ron Arad, Friedman Benda. I think it is perfect— made for this place, it was perfect luck. But I have many pieces by Ron Arad, but now that his pieces are sold at crazy prices, I don’t buy them anymore.”
How do art and creativity contribute to the development of the company? “There is a lot of creativity working behind the scenes. You don’t see it straight away but it is there, all made in-house.”
In the future will Vente Privee sell artwork? “No, never. That is the only thing we won’t sell because there is no discount on art. There is a price you are willing to pay for a piece, but art never comes at a fixed price. So the only thing we will never sell is art, and obviously illegal items.”