A Sneak Preview of Bruno Moinard's New Tome: 'From Line to Light'
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A Sneak Preview of Bruno Moinard's New Tome: 'From Line to Light'
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It’s a grey October afternoon in Paris, the sky’s sombre hue an extension of the city’s iconic zinc rooftops, and Bruno Moinard, seated at a white bean-shaped desk in his oval-shaped Haussmanian office on Avenue Montaigne, is leafing through a stack of unbound pages from his new book: ‘Bruno Moinard, From Line to Light’. With a foreword penned by longtime collaborator Jean-Paul Goude, the 240-page tome, documents some of the interior designer’s most prestigious projects to date, showcasing his range of moods — from the minimalism of the wine cellars of the prestigious François Pinault-owned Château Latour in Pauillac to the subtly rich decor of Le Relais Plaza in Paris.

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Bruno Moinard
Photo by Jacques Pépion
 

The book’s five chapters are themed around Moinard signatures – light, materials, luxury, purity and furniture – moving between handsome photographs of his interiors, ambiance details and drawings, the cornerstone of his career. “I’m from the dinosaur era. When I was young I knew I wanted to draw and do architecture and interiors,” says Moinard, who has built his career on his talent for capturing the essence of a space in a few strokes of his fountain pen. “It’s the spontaneity of the gesture, showing the volume, the emotion, proportions or disproportions, the atmosphere, with the light and shadows punctuated by objects,” adds the designer who communicates with his clients through sketches. “In a drawing you can’t tell everything. When I present a project I present traits, it’s never completely finished in order to leave the eye free. There’s a spontaneous lightness and emotion.”

Born in Dieppe, Moinard came to Paris at age 16 to attend boarding school, going on to study at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et des Métiers d'Art. “My dream was to draw interiors and I had two professors who mentored me, one more on the technical side of drawing and the other on the fantasy, emotion and fragility," says the designer who describes his new book as a portfolio of sorts. “People often ask me about my style and here it all comes together. Even if people know my name they don’t always necessarily know what I do and, above all, my method of working,” adds Moinard, a picture of elegance in his signature bespoke navy suit, a discreet Légion d’Honneur red stitch at its lapel. To his right, the Eiffel Tower looks on through a side window, seemingly straddling the end of the avenue, while we’re so close to the Christian Dior flagship we could hit it with a stone.

His office is immaculate yet homely, with neat towers of books lining the walls. A collection of vibrant watercolour souvenirs from his travels soften the space’s pristine white mouldings, interspersed with objects from across his career, from a black aquarium housing a model of a private residence currently underway in China to the re-edition of the Mariano Fortuny Projecteur lamp he elaborated in the Eighties for Ecart International, the agency of the legendary Andrée Putman with whom he earned his stripes. (Moinard, who had been sent to the agency by one of his professors in his early twenties, caught Putman’s eye with his gift for drawing, rising through the ranks to become her chief collaborator on an array of prestigious projects including shops for Karl Lagerfeld, Alaia and Chloé, the office of France’s former Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, and the interior of the Concorde).

 

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Tai Ping

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The title of Moinard’s new book reflects his professional trajectory, having moved out from under Putman’s shadow and into the limelight as a successful interior architect and designer in his own right. After 16 years under her wing, the decision to start his own agency – 4BI – was pretty daunting at the time (1995), but within 20 minutes of leaving Ecart International he received a call from his first client. Hot on their tail came the Cartier Foundation, who approached Moinard to design the Amour exhibition in 1997 (it was the beginning of an ongoing love affair with Cartier, who since 2002 have had Moinard oversee the design of some 350 stores around the world). And the newly independent designer before long found himself winging his way to New York on the Concorde whose very interior he helped design to oversee a project for Pinault (another longstanding collaboration - Moinard is currently wrapping up the design of the Paris HQ of Balenciaga, which is owned by Kering, the luxury goods conglomerate founded by Pinault). Other commercial projects underway include a Four Seasons hotel in London, a Dorchester Group hotel in Rome and a restaurant for Alain Ducasse in Peking.

Poring over the book, Moinard alights on another restaurant he recently designed for the French chef, The Grill at The Dorchester in London, with “black walls at night and by day screens that pivot to let in the light”, and as its centrepiece a bespoke Murano light evoking amber flames. Just like one of his drawings, the space is a masterful play on shadow and light. “Light is possibly the most important element. When you enter a space, the emotion comes from the light. There’s the volume, of course, but if the lighting is bad it can break everything,” explains the designer. “Once the lighting is in place, creating different moods in the different areas of a space, it’s then that we take a seat and the materials come into play.”

For Moinard, who spends half of the year travelling, an interior should blend with its environment and cultural context. To illustrate his point he flicks to a shot of the entrance to a hotel he designed in Chengdu, China: “oversized bird cages in a grey bronze the colour of the rain over there”. On another page, the brown concrete evoked in an abstract sketch of a Château Latour staircase, descending into the darkness, nods to the colour of the vineyard’s soil and the mud of the Garonne river that feeds it. Other features include a series of pebble-like light bulbs punctuating the space “like a starry sky”, and a 10-metre-high sliding door that adds “a modern Alice in Wonderland twist to the space”.

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The Shiga sofa with an Aubusson by Robert Four tapestry design based on one of Moinard's own paintings.
Courtesy of Bruno Moinard
 

Moinard is very much a material man, and for his own furniture line - Bruno Moinard Editions - collaborates with a network of France-based artisans collected across his career. His new classics combine purity of line, form and proportion with highly sophisticated – and often technically challenging – artisanal finishes, such as leather sanded to give a butter-soft finish. His designs range from carved alabaster lily of the valley lamps to a lacquered beech sofa with cushions upholstered in a tapestry design by Aubusson by Robert Four based on one of his own paintings.

Since two years all of his designs carry a yellow base, with this idea of a “sunray hitting the floor and being absorbed by the furniture”. “There’s a guy in fashion who does red soles, I have a yellow underside for my furniture. It’s just a touch of humour, I like the idea of seeing this flash of yellow when the pieces are being delivered.” Furniture collaborations by Moinard, who opened his Paris gallery two years ago, include Promemoria, Ecart International and Interna Italy, which earlier this year launched an office furniture line by Moinard with a sliding scale of designs “going from the president to the secretary”.

After nigh forty years in the business, Moinard could easily put his feet up (on a super-elegant pouf) but still gets a kick out of competing for commissions, often burning the midnight oil to turn in his projects. “I’ve no notion of time, you have to keep fresh, like a sketch, remain curious, travel,” says the designer. “I might slow down at some point but for now, I need this energy.” His desire is that these interiors, that begin life as a series of pen strokes, will last. “For Château Latour, I hope to have designed something that will last through eternity, a fitting space for the wine, which is sacred,” says Moinard for whom it always goes back to the sketch. “In the fifteen years I’ve worked with Cartier the concept has changed, of course, as the company has grown,” he adds. “But the gesture of the original sketch is still there.”

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