Numéro art: How did you approach designing a museum dedicated to the work Yves Saint Laurent?
Studio KO: We imagined it as an interpretation of clothing: like a lined garment, the interior and exterior are different. The outside is ochre, while the inside is dressed in white, apart from the galleries which are black. The exterior, made of raw brick, is completely opaque. The interior draws in light via two patios, one walled with glass, the other with glazed brick.
Are there any connections between fashion and architecture?
While a wealthy woman buys herself a designer handbag, the heads of big brands buy themselves designer buildings, generally a museum. But for the Musée Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Bergé made it very clear that the last thing he wanted was an architectural gesture.
For the first time in your work you’ve used curves.
Yes. We didn’t use curves before because we weren’t comfortable with them. But clothing has to have curves for flexibility. That’s why you find them generating several spaces in the museum. On the outside, the terrazzo flows up from the floor to the walls via a curved junction, like the fold in a cape trailing on the floor. To bring a certain formality to the building, we reinterpreted a pattern we’d found in the archives: an armhole hand-drawn in chalk by Saint Laurent, in other words the shoulder-sleeve junction. It hit us like a thunderbolt. Laid out flat, it was like an open book, almost an architectural drawing. It showed very simply how to link a curve or multiple curves – the shoulder – to a straight line – the sleeve.
Did clothing textures inspire the brick motifs?
Yes, we envisioned the brickwork like a fabric weave. Each volume has a different motif. In places the loosely spaced bricks form screens that let in light like mashrabiyas.
Which architects have influenced your work?
Two architects are very important to us: Peter Zumthor and Valerio Olgiati, both Swiss and both contextualists. Zumthor is a great writer. We had the chance to visit his baths in Vals – a breathtaking experience. With Olgiati, it’s the formal intelligence and dexterity that we admire. Jean Nouvel is also a great influence, especially his 2005 Louisiana Manifesto in which he says, “Each new situation requires a new architecture.” That sentence was an electroshock that still informs our work.
“Pierre Bergé was clear that the last thing he wanted was an architectural gesture”