FOUR QUESTIONS BY ÁSDÍS ÓLAFSDÓTTIR TO LAËTITIA BADAUT HAUSSMANN
What does the Maison Louis Carré — its history, its owners, its past — evoke for you?
The Maison Louis Carré is a quintessential modernist paradigm: of taste, of class, of its backer, its architect… As an object for study it’s as dizzying as it is compelling, and it generates an ambiguous position as a historical reference point. Everything there was thought through so that ideas, art, money and networks could circulate freely during the dinners, cocktail parties and other receptions. As an aesthetic choice, this total architecture and design project created to articulate art and life is fascinating. This site accumulates several reproductions: history of art, of architecture, of design, linked to a social history of course. It’s the end of an epoch the shadows of which still occupy a considerable space today. As such, Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie resonates just as well with the way in which I perceive these perfectly preserved ruins.
How much did Alvar Aalto’s architecture and design inspire you in this project?
Aalto’s architecture and design have — through the choice and use of very precisely-chosen, natural materials — a candidness with the organic which is not immediate in the vocabulary of modern architecture. With this, the working dynamic that Aalto deploys via Artek — a structure originally created with his first wife, Aino Aalto (d. 1949) who had a fundamental influence on the language we would develop throughout his career — is decisive. For the Maison Carré, Elissa Aalto assumed a major role as collaborator and project supervisor. A number of women architects and designers, who were absolutely essential to the project, worked in the shadows, such as Marlaine Perrochet and Maija Heikinheimo. The community of intellect, of creativity and of production gathered around this project is a fascinating lever for understanding this architecture, and drawing stories from it.
The villa’s garden is also an Alvar Aalto creation, and hosted some magnificent parties over the years. You told me that you wanted to bring the past back to life at the opening.
June 24, the date of the opening, combines two vital elements: the anniversary (within two days) of the first great party that the Carrés hosted at the house, in honour of Alvar and Elissa Aalto, as well as the feast day of Saint John — Juhannus in Finnish — which is the summer solstice, something that is particularly marked in Nordic countries. As you highlighted, the garden was initially conceived to host parties. This social and festive aspect is a fundamental marker of the life of this house. The uniqueness of the invitation extended to me, linked to the social and political context in which we find ourselves, calls on our urge to gather, to be together for — and through — a collective event in this space.
How do you think the link can be established between this building dating from the end of the 1950s and contemporary creation?
In a certain way we are the grandchildren, probably illegitimate, of the generations to which Aalto, Carré and his consort belonged. There is necessarily a distortion in the reception of these stories and this epoch, a strain on the variable levels of respect, distance and rupture. We have the keys to the house for the weekend and we will always be teenagers. Because of this, it’s about exorcising a past which could seem perfect in it’s modernity, except that we have never been modern.