Pierre Bergé enlisted architects Karl Fournier, below right, and Olivier Marty, below left, of Studio KO, the firm behind the Balmain flagship in New York and Chiltern Firehouse in London, to head the Morocco project for the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech, slated to open in fall 2017.

This story first appeared in the July 20, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The building will have a 4,300-square-foot permanent exhibition space to display 50 pieces by Saint Laurent (out of the 150 pieces sent to Morocco, which will be shown on a rotating basis), along with a 1,600-square-foot space for temporary exhibitions; a 130-seat auditorium for concerts, film screenings and conferences; a café and a restaurant with a terrace and a research library housing 5,000 books (ranging from tomes on Arabic history, literature and poetry, to botany, Berber culture and Yves Saint Laurent’s work and fashion.)

Bergé says he tapped the duo for their love of Morocco (KO worked on his Tangier house) and their deep knowledge of the country in addition to their talent. “He told us he didn’t want a sculpture,” said Fournier.

They’re also working on AMI boutiques, revamping Divellec — a Parisian restaurant under the supervision of Isabelle Saglio, Jean-Louis Costes and the chef Mathieu Pacaud — and they’re giving the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles a facelift.

 

How did you meet Pierre Bergé?

Karl Fournier: I met him at a lunch at Marella Agnelli’s home in Marrakech. The day after, he invited me to visit the Majorelle Gardens after hours. Then we had dinner and he met Olivier. Years later, he asked us to do the renovation of the first floor of the blue house [at the Majorelle Gardens]. Jacques Majorelle had a bachelor pad above his atelier. We did a light renovation and then we worked with Pierre Bergé on his house in Tangier, an early 20th-century colonial-style house.

What was your inspiration for the YSL museum?

K.F.: We strode across Yves Saint Laurent’s archives in Paris. There, you find the “bibles” gathering his patterns. We saw parallels between our two subjects. What struck us is the duality between straight lines like scalpel blades and curves in his patterns, and the succession of loose and clean cuts.

Olivier Marty: That was our starting point for the building. There are mostly straight lines and two curves on the exterior and a circular patio. The idea was to continue the modernity of Yves Saint Laurent’s work with a building that would be itself anchored in modernity.

How do you collaborate with Bergé on the museum?

K.F.: He’s a very involved project owner. Just to give you an example: We took a daylong trip to Poltrona Frau’s [factory] together to discuss the seats in the auditorium. He’s 85. It’s very rare to see a client who’s so involved. We see each other very often. He also feels strongly about the colors of the stained-glass windows on the museum’s ground floor. They’re a nod to Henri Matisse’s stained glass in Vence [Provence], which inspired Yves Saint Laurent. He’s involved on every aspect, the type of surfacing….He has a good knowledge of everything architectural. He’s very curious.

You also work with French fashion designer Alexandre Mattiussi for the boutiques of his label AMI.

K.F.: We have done five boutiques for AMI, a sixth being in the pipeline in Hong Kong and plans in New York for next year. The concept of the boutiques has evolved in line with Alexandre Mattiussi’s creations and as the brand grew. He’s a design lover. He has a strong imagination. There’s a black-and-white theme. Many stores use residential parquet. We’ve twisted it with stencils. His boutiques resemble him. We like that in retail. In that regard, designing retail isn’t different from a private residence.

Does the product take center stage in retail in general?

K.F.: Product and environment are on equal terms. There’s an aim, which is to showcase the product, without ostentation. For the boutique to last, the brand has to sell.

O.M.: The merchandising part is voluntarily classic and pretty simple. We favor the atmosphere, through light, materials and layout. That’s what cannot be experienced online.

What does the facelift of the Chateau Marmont consist of?

K.F.: The goal is that people don’t notice it. Only the most regular guests will.