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Massimo De Carlo Pièce Unique, Paris

Kengo Kuma in collaboration with PiM.studio Architects

For the design of the Galerie Piece Unique we have been equally inspired by the original gallery in Saint-Germain, and in a way, by the traditional Parisian architecture and materiality.

A small project in size, but the very powerful concept of a single art piece becoming each time the entire exhibition inspired us to create a special design to complement this still very innovative exhibition approach.

We divided the original space into two areas, recreating roughly the size and proportion of the original Piece Unique gallery on the street side, and with a large glass façade, la vitrine,  we wanted to emphasize as much as possible the relationship between the street and the gallery space, between the passer-by and the art exhibited inside: the sight of the artworks from the street is in fact an important aspect of the project. The only additional element on the façade is a simple bandeau on top of the glazed vitrine, a revisited approach to the traditional Parisian shop window, but emptied of any sign or graphics so as to eliminate any distractions from the simple act of enjoying the art when passing by on the trottoir.

For the interiors, we wanted to create a rich and textured space by subtracting rather than adding new elements. We removed the finishes from the two main walls and from the ceilings to reveal the naked beauty of the traditional Parisian architecture, in its roughness and in its material glory, leaving the wood of the ceiling and the stone on the walls exposed to be seen and touched. With a similar approach, we designed the reception desk by using the same Parisian stone leaving the visible faces as rough as they were after being cut in the quarry. A richly textured clay floor complements the existing materials in the gallery.

As a counterpart, the exhibition white walls create a calm balance on the gallery space opposite the stone wall. While on the viewing area we’ve designed a transformable yet simple piece of furniture that can be used to store artworks, as well as to exhibit them and can be made into a flexible workspace when required.

The lighting is designed to delicately light the art and the space revealing the beautiful materiality of the project.

Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani and Piercarlo Quecchia, Courtesy MASSIMODECARLO