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A 325

Jun 17, 2023Jun 17, 2023

By Nicolas Milon

Photography by Alice Mesguich

Ten minutes on foot from the Pont du Gard in the south of France, a property with a 325-square-foot structure that had never yet been used as a home stood, waiting to be reimagined. For the new owners, a young retired couple, the small space offered an opportunity to fulfill their dream of opening their own bed and breakfast. While the building was charming on the outside—the Provençal tile roof helps—it was less so on the inside. With its rough slab floor, cinder-block walls, and a makeshift ceiling, it served as a garage and storage room. “We had to give a soul to a structure that was totally devoid of one,” explain Raphaëlle Robert and Guillaume Fantin, the duo behind design and architecture studio Le Cann. “The owners gave us carte blanche to create an interior in their image and grounded in the region, their home. It was a matter of creating a space for two that is open, understated, and natural. A warm and friendly place that invites laziness, ideal for relaxing after a hot summer day.”

A tightly woven sisal rug, pleasant to the touch of bare feet, covers the floors. The benches are fitted with large cushions in Huahune, a tight-weave cotton (Nobilis). These raw materials are complemented by touches of brushed steel on the coffee table and stainless steel on the kitchen cabinets. On the wall to the right of the bench, there’s a work by Gaultier Rimbault-Joffard.

In this box with an unsightly ceiling, the architects created new volumes by recovering the living room’s double height. The ridge beam was kept, and its axis used to create a symmetrical and clearly articulated plan around two arched ceilings, the curves of which hides the technical bits of the home. To the right of this cathedral ceiling are the kitchen and bathroom; to the left, there’s a bedroom, office, and dressing room. In the center, the living room consists of steps and risers that create a bench with simple cushions. It’s an open and uncluttered space, an invitation to take one’s shoes off and sit—or even recline—casually. “We always work with a very minimalist envelope, drawn along symmetrical axes, a legacy of my time at Joseph Dirand,” says Guillaume. “Then, it is interesting to use the play of volumes rather than partitions and half partitions to bring order to a consciously open space,” Raphaëlle adds.

The kitchen is stainless steel, creating a contrast with the very matte and cloudy whitewashed walls and ceilings. The graphic effect of the kitchen cabinets’ grid pattern makes the light vibrate. On the credenza, a wood sculpture by Giuliano Mancini.

The task of outlining the different spaces was given to the building’s materials. Facing the sisal-clad steps leading to the sleeping area, a stainless-steel kitchen contrasts with the very matte and cloudy whitewashed walls and ceilings. The graphic effect of the kitchen cupboards’ grid makes the light vibrate and multiplies the reflections in the chrome, stainless steel, and smoked glass elements as well as the gold screen that has been restored and re-lacquered. In the wet area, a shower and basin are made of travertine, a stone widely used in the region and chosen here for its “very cloudy appearance, full of flaws.” A closet, storage, and a small desk are integrated into the walls.

In this soft, almost hushed universe, the architects introduce some eclectic touches via furniture and decorative items. Between classic vintage and cool contemporary, there’s a lamp by Ingo Maurer, a suspension one by Achille Castiglioni, and furniture from Le Cann’s Marc du Plantier-inspired collection: a chair, a pedestal table, and a mirror. While they are keen to preserve the materials and knowhow of local artisans, the two architects did not want to turn the home into a fantasy pastiche of southern France. Instead their goal was to reinterpret the region with their own style—a restrained aesthetic punctuated by 1970s and 1980s pop references. It is a classic-futuristic design twist that belongs to them alone.

The home has only a few openings so little light penetrates inside, which is a saving grace when the temperature hits 104 degrees. In front of the office and dressing area with its integrated whitewashed furniture, the Poly chair in natural oak and Alcantara fabric is from the Muses collection (Le Cann). On the desk, a Gulp desk lamp by Ingo Maurer and, above, a ceramic sculpture on a linen backdrop (Le Cann) hangs from the curtain rod, in front of a curtain made of Adelphi fabric by Dedar.

By Ludovica Stevan

By Zoë Sessums

By Sara Barragán del Rey

To the left of the bookcase, a printed diptych by Aliska Lahusen. On the left side of the photo, the door sits behind Adelphi fabric curtains hung on a stainless-steel.

The small clerestory-like windows create a sensual and warm play of light and shade. The base of the bed is covered in sisal, like the floor, providing a soft, sensual, and simple sense of continuity. An old screen has been resized and re-lacquered, offering a luminous and golden contrast. Bedside table in natural oak Uranie, from the Muses collection (Le Cann). Ora Shell fabric curtain (Romo).

In the sleeping area, the screen creates a small alcove. Above the bed, a print on metal by Giorgio de Tonti. On the screen, a framed piece of fabric from the Wrapped Arc de Triomphe by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The coffee set is antique.

By Ludovica Stevan

By Zoë Sessums

By Sara Barragán del Rey

In front of the entrance to the bathroom, a Parentesi lamp by Achile Castiglioni, a 1970s nod from the architects that contrasts with the naturally raw and silky appearance of the sisal floor and whitewashed walls.

In the bathroom, the walk-in shower and basin appear as if they were carved from a single block of travertine, a stone widely used in the region. It was chosen by Le Cann for its “very cloudy appearance, full of flaws.” Euterpe natural oak mirror, Muses collection (Le Cann). To the right, a color aquatint by Gaby Edrei.

This home tour was first published by AD France.