Amélie : « I’d like to say that I discovered her talent when I visited the M+ Museum of Contemporary Art in Hong Kong, but it hasn’t opened yet… Tess is my amazing cousin whose work I’ve been following since she started at Herzog & De Meuron. I was waiting for the right timing and the right project for us to work together, and the rue Séguier came at the right time!
Amélie, Art House by
Tess Walraven & Amélie du Chalard
21 January 2022
Two cousins with a common passion: abstract art. Each in their own way, they breathe it into everyday life. Amélie du Chalard is a new kind of gallery owner: she presents talents who reinvent abstraction in hybrid spaces, where their works are exhibited as if they were at home. Tess Walraven is an architect who spent six years helping to design and build the M+ Museum of Contemporary Art in Hong Kong.
Together, they have designed the private mansion at 18 rue Séguier. A timeless place, in the sixth arrondissement of Paris, which was for a time the headquarters of Actes Sud publishing. 350 square metres have been transformed into a singular house where art astonishes and soothes. Amélie and Tess designed the museum’s itinerary to present the works in a natural and obvious way in seven rooms in a row (Collection Room, Winter Garden, Happening Room…). There, paintings, sculptures and collages are mixed with decorations made of wagon wood cast in cement, crushed brick (cocciopesto) or even bronze and recycled aluminium. Or the art and manner of breaking codes.
What is your relationship with Tess?
How did this new gallery come about?
Amélie : « We were looking for a new, larger gallery on the left bank… A visit to this astonishing location with exceptional potential and a long history – the former headquarters of Actes Sud – quickly aroused my interest. The very engaging meeting with Françoise Nyssen, who owned the place, finally convinced me.
Tess : « Amélie asked me to work on her project when I returned from Hong Kong. With my experience in the museum field, I was immediately won over by the project. »
What was the main idea behind the project?
Amélie : « We worked with natural and recycled materials. Tess was also obsessed with perspective and carefully designed the openings. Finally, each room has a strong architectural element, whether it be the work of an artist, a floor or a material.
Tess : « The idea was to create a timeless and dynamic space that both surprises and calms. The exhibition of the artworks is at the heart of the project. The museum route allows the works to be presented in an obvious and natural way, thus arousing the visitor’s emotions. »
What is the intention of this new gallery?
Amélie : « A tribute to creation, whether artistic or artisanal. »
Tess : « To celebrate beauty, art and colour, materials and textures. »
Two adjectives to define the gallery?
« Timeless and warm ».
The colour palette
Amélie : « Sober and natural tones to accompany the diversity of the hangings: greiges, beiges, earth tones, whites… ».
Tess : « The colours of the materials guided the choice of the palette: travertine in its natural and silver version, granite for the kitchen worktop, the brick of the cocciopesto floor, the blue grey of the raw sheet metal.
Any particular techniques used?
Amélie : « The wagon wood floor cast in anthracite cement in the kitchen, the crushed brick (cocciopesto) in the kitchen, the two pivoting raw earth doors between the entrance and the collection room, the library made of marriage stone (ancient stones used as offerings in Indonesia), the linen coverings of the windows on the courtyard side etc. »
Tess : « I was fascinated by the reclaimed bronze and aluminium melted at over a thousand degrees and then cast, to create unique objects and textures such as the bronze pebbles inserted into the entrance floor and the aluminium plates that adorn the staircase steps. We were able to explore these techniques in collaboration with Abeille Fonderie. »
How did you design this place?
Amélie : « Like a luminous and grandiose showcase to highlight the works and like a timeless space that allows our collectors to enjoy a nice walk.
Tess : « Like an architectural journey but also a place of life, welcoming and generous in which we feel good. »
Your architectural and design influences?
Amélie : « I don’t think I have any major influences but I would say that I admire the work of Geoffrey Bawa, the father of Sri Lankan architecture, or the Belgian interior designer Axel Vervoordt. I also particularly like Brazilian design, the work of French artist Valentine Schlegel and I am obviously inspired by the creative worlds of all my artists. »
The soundtrack that would fit the gallery?
Amélie : « Bon Entendeur, any playlist. »
Tess : « I’ve been listening to artist Rhye’s Blood album a lot during the development of the project, and I think it fits the mood of the gallery. »
Some words to describe La Beauté du geste exhibition?
Amélie : « This exhibition highlights the attention to detail in Japanese crafts. The idea was also to show contemporary skills other than those we know, such as raku. This is how several types of materials come together: textiles, straw, glass, wood, ceramics and metal. »
Why Japanese crafts?
Amélie : « Because I wanted to travel far after this year of confinement! »
How did you select the artists to be exhibited?
Amélie : « The artists selected with Johanna Colombatti have all mastered a very specific material and have developed a very distinctive universe: Rieko Koga works with textiles, Arko and Tomoko with straw, Saburo and Nita with glass, Kuremoto and Hamana with ceramics in unusual forms, and Zougei and BCXSY with wood. »