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Lafayette Anticipations was founded in October 2013. The idea is unlike any other in Paris: to establish an interdisciplinary center for contemporary creation in the heart of the Marais. Its mission is to support emerging talents in fashion, design, and art. In March 2018, the Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette will open the doors to its renovated 19th-century building, designed by Rem Koolhaas and OMA. To learn more about Lafayette Anticipations, we spoke with the president of the organization, Guillaume Houzé.
WHITEWALL: How has the mission evolved as you’ve gotten closer to the opening in the spring of 2018?
GUILLAUME HOUZÉ: Throughout its pre-launch program, the Fondation developed several partnerships with local cultural institutions, such as the Centre Pompidou and the Archives nationales in Paris, as well as international centers including the Kunsthalle Basel, MoMA PS1, Performa, and the New Museum, among others.
Even as the opening date of the 9 rue du Plâtre building fast approaches, our mission remains unchanged. Our actions and initiatives in favor of contemporary creation will continue to thrive within the 9 rue du Plâtre building, and hors-les-murs.
WW: What did you like about Rem Koolhaas and OMA’s design approach to Lafayette Anticipations?
GH: The 9 rue du Plâtre represents Rem Koolhaas’s first architectural construction in Paris. Our collaboration with Rem is thus replete with symbolic importance, and actually began before the Fondation’s project. Indeed, in 2012, I invited the architect and his think tank AMO to conceive an exhibit especially for the hundredth anniversary of the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann’s coupole constructed by Ferdinand Chanut. I am particularly compelled by Rem’s intellectual trajectory. He is first and foremost a thinker of urbanism; his architectural theory is nourished by his previous practices as a journalist and author. Furthermore, he has contributed significantly to the analysis of the role of retail and consumption in society and architecture—namely, with his book The Harvard Guide to Shopping. Rem has an innate ability to work with existing architectural heritage, respecting its original structure, all the while transforming and enhancing its appearance, most recently apparent in his work with the Prada Fondazione in Milan. His work at the Villa Lemoine in Bordeaux also demonstrated his ability to conceive performative architecture, particularly important with regard to the Fondation’s project.
WW: Can you tell us about what we can expect from the mobile exhibition tower in the courtyard?
GH: Rem Koolhaas designed an 18-meter-high glass-and-steel exhibition tower, situated in the central courtyard of the Fondation’s building. This structure is endowed with four mobile platforms that can move along a rack and pinion and thus create 49 different spatial configurations. Thus, within the span of a single exhibition, the space can be transformed multiple times thanks to this mechanism, which explains the architect’s choice of “curatorial machine,” or “mutant stage” to designate the structure. This architectural project grants flexibility to the artists invited within its space, while granting the audience the opportunity to engage with multiple perspectives, renewed with each visit.
WW: What kinds of exchanges are you hoping to happen between artists, designers, and creatives at Lafayette Anticipations? How does that play out on a day-to-day scale?
GH: We hope to continue working with interdisciplinary creators, invited to create within our production workshop during residences. The Fondation will thus accompany a creator’s project over the course of its production process, which may last a few months or several years. Furthermore, this support will not only take place within the 9 rue du Plâtre, but will flourish beyond its walls, as exhibited during French artist Camille Henrot’s recent “Carte Blanche” at the Palais de Tokyo, for which the Fondation provided production support leading to the construction of a unique and technically intricate piece titled Garde-fou.
WW: Who are some of the artists, designers, and creatives you know will be involved?
GH: The Fondation has recently collaborated with artists such as Anicka Yi, Tyler Coburn, and Camille Blatrix, as well as designers including Slow and Steady Wins the Race (Mary Ping) and Perks and Mini (P.A.M.). This international and interdisciplinary group of artists is a representative panorama of future collaborations that will occur within the 9 rue du Plâtre, as well as beyond within the framework of continued and expanded partnerships.
This article appears in Whitewall‘s winter 2018 New Luxury issue, out now.