garden tales from a Brit at home and abroad
This year, the Paris FIAC (a contemporary art fair) includes 28 installations in the Jardins des Tuileries.
One of my favourites is the Ferembal House, displayed on the Terrasse des Feuillants. It was originally designed by Jean Prouvé, the French engineer and designer who created Modern furniture and prefabricated housing before and after the Second World War. Although not as well known as Le Corbusier or Charlotte Perriand, with whom he worked, Prouvé is regarded as a major influence on contemporary designers.
The Ferembal structure was created in 1948 as the upper story of an office block for a Nancy can factory. Dismantled in 1983, the pieces were kept by a discerning local, and acquired in the late 1990s by gallery-owner Patrick Seguin. He worked with Prouvé experts and leading French architect Jean Nouvel to recreate and reinvent the structure. It is now a single-story building with a new base, floor and external staircase added by Nouvel.
On display in the Tuileries, the House has that wonderful simplicity and strength that characterise the best Modern buildings. With its surfaces planked neatly in dark wood, it reminded me a little of the plainness of Shaker design, while the five striking steel portal frames recall the building’s industrial past, and its creator’s interest in mass production.
One of the joys of its temporary home in the Tuileries is the splendid juxtaposition between the building’s sombre interior and the view through its horizontal banded windows of the garden’s many plane trees in their glorious Autumn colours.
P.S. I was walking past the Tuileries today (9 December) and took photos of the house being dismantled. Not sure whether its departure was hastened by yesterday’s snowstorm (there were certainly workmen disconsolately removing slush from the roof), but it was all being packed into stout crates neatly stamped “FEREMBAL.” I wonder where it is headed now?