Inside Ebel's La Villa Turque with Michel Richard
M eet Michel Richard, the Director of the Foundation Le Corbusier. His work speaks for itself, but here Buro 24/7 Middle East speaks to the literary and cultural expert about his work with Ebel, haute watches and why time can stand still when it comes to great pieces of architecture...
Ebel is a firmly established brand in the watch department. How did you translate the history, heritage and haute nature of the brand into the house?
Ebel shares a lot of common points with La Villa Turque, somehow their destinies are linked. They came out from the same years, Ebel in 1911 and La Villa Turque — initially La Villa Schwob — in 1916. The house is a masterpiece of art from the work of Le Corbusier, designed from curves and smooth lines, just like an Ebel piece.
A lot of your work revolves around modernity, yet La Villa Turque was created in 1916. What was the greatest challenge you faced in refurbishing the house?
The key objective while refurbishing the house was to keep in mind the fabulous work of Le Corbusier. In 1986, when Ebel acquired La Villa Turque, it couldn't imagine a refurbishment differently. It had to enhance the work of its original creator and not to reinterpret it in another artistic direction.
The flow of the light inside the lounge is absolutely majestic and the main work was to enhance it at its best — keeping smooth and peaceful taupe colours in harmony with the curved lines and large walls.
Why was it so important to Ebel to have you redesign the house and what was the brief?
It has been important to refurbish the house in a way that Ebel acquired it — as its centre of public relations. By the way, the house required a fresh and clean new look. It has been in this direction that La Villa Turque has been refurbished, while keeping in mind the original work of Le Corbusier.
Architecture had long been a huge influence on fashion design. How did you know that installing lightness into the Ebel house would result in a watch that would become a best seller?
Light is a source of inspiration for creators, from watchmakers to fashion designers. Products might be different but they share a common base: creativity. Of course, a nice working atmosphere, an inspirational edifice such as La Villa Turque open the doors of creativity. Today, the house continues to inspire Ebel and, this is somehow the way the Ebel Wave collection became a best seller.
In your watch collection, what's your favorite piece and why?
The Ebel Wave is a reinterpretation of the iconic Ebel Classic, in a modern way. By using modern language to design the watch, we have been able to come up with a piece, which represents the original values of Ebel and translate that to a younger audience.
Watches are a statement of luxury? What are your top tips for infusing luxury into a home? Living in the Middle East, people often look to design for inspiration but the result can often be ostentatious...
Luxury is a statement. It can reside in a way of living as well as in goods. Linking architecture and luxury might be an easy exercise as well as a very complicated one. The creator, the designer, the architect or the name behind them is key in the luxury perception. Luxurious pieces — a watch or a house — share a common creative line. Designing a luxurious house needs to be tailored to its future owner, as an extension of their personality keeping the signature line of the architect.
What's next with your relationship with Ebel?
La Fondation Le Corbusier has four objectives to enhance and promote the work of Le Corbusier's architect. The foundation and Ebel are linked by La Villa Turque.
What's next for Le Corbusier?
Le Corbusier's work has been recently classified as "world heritage". This is a great recognition of his work on the international scenery.