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Louis Vuitton’s Pop-Up Residence Inspired by Pierre Paulin

Louis Vuitton delights pop art fans with a Pierre Paulin themed pop-up residence. Christie Lee reports.

Louis Vuitton L'Appartement


BY Janice Seow

May 14th, 2015


Top: Maia and Benjamin Paulin. Photo: Michael Weber

Following the success of its first L’Appartement in Hong Kong last year, Louis Vuitton’s pop-up residence returns to the city this year, and pays tribute to the works of Pierre Paulin. A lucky few were treated to a glimpse of the designer’s surrealistic tendencies at the by-invitation only residence at 12 Harcourt Road in Central over a six-week period in March and April this year. 

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L’Appartement 2015. Photo: Michael Weber

One is most likely to have come across Pierre Paulin’s distinctive creations, despite not recognising his name. Drawing inspiration from far and wide, including 1960s pop art and Japanese origami, Paulin has often defied expectations, imbuing seemingly common objects with a keen sensuality. Consider the Mushroom, the famous 1960 fauteuil upholstered in lush stretched jersey, or Tongue, long dubbed the design equivalent of a French kiss.

There has been a revival of interest in the ergonomic work of the late French designer, as evidenced by Centre Pompidou’s forthcoming Paulin retrospective this October. “We already had a couple of exhibitions, with many more to come,” says Maia Pauline, Pauline’s wife. “In fact, Paulin’s designs are all around us. They have appeared in so many movies!” 

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Archive Images. Photo: © Archives Pierre Paulin

This is not the first collaboration between Louis Vuitton and the Pierre Paulin design studio. Paulin’s Osaka chair inspired Nicolas Chesquiere’s Cruise collection and Paulin’s pop-inspired aesthetic also took centrestage at the French maison’s Playing with Shapes tribute exhibition at Design Miami in 2014.

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L’Appartement 2015. Photo: Michael Weber

The L’Appartement incorporates a study, boudoir and separate living and dining quarters. Working in tandem with Maia and Paulin’s son, Benjamin, Louis Vuitton furnished the 3000 square feet apartment with key Paulin pieces, set against a minimalist beige and white backdrop.

Louis Vuitton L'Appartement
L’Appartement 2015. Photo: Michael Weber

Aside from vibrant hues, a distinctive trait of Paulin’s designs is their uncanny ability to cradle the body. Highlights at the pop-up includes the 1973 Groovy Armchair, where its plush shell seat is supported by two tubular steel frames with horizontal springing, and the 1966 Ribbon Chair, where its sinuous contours were inspired by pleated serviettes commonly found in fine dining establishments. The latter is also part of the permanent collection at MOMA. Evoking the image of a slithering snake, the Osaka Chair was re-imagined in blue and purple.

Pierre Paulin
Photo: © Archives Pierre Paulin

Flexibility, be it in form or function, is a key underlying trait in Paulin’s designs. While the Magis Library – also affectionately dubbed Pyramide – allowed individual modules to be placed side by side or stacked atop one another in infinite configurations, the invisible hinges in the Module B shelving system enabled it to adhere to any curve-shaped wall.

Louis Vuitton L'Appartement
L’Appartement 2015. Photo: Michael Weber

Taking place of honour in the dining area is Table Hong Kong, a table created for Jacques Chirac and brought to Hong Kong for the pop-up event. Originally designed for the fumoir at Elysee Palace in 1970, the Rosace Table consists of a translucent smoked glass top delicately placed atop a plexiglass pedestal in opaque white.