“The Liaigre aesthetic is defined by elegance and simplicity in forms: through natural materials, a deep love of craft skills, an eye for details and proportions and an absence of anything superfluous,” says Frauke Meyer, who worked alongside Christian Liaigre as his protégée for 18 years, and took the reins as creative director at the maison when the French designer sold the business in 2016. Liaigre, who arrived on the design scene in the mid-1980s with an easy, understated aesthetic, flew in the face of the preference for neon, chintz and the bold block colours and motifs of the Memphis movement, and his timeless brand of minimalism brought the studio success over four decades of design.
Liaigre: Creation, published this month, is testament to this achievement – five new house projects, which were begun by Liaigre and completed by Meyer, pour over its pages. Each project reveals how the DNA of the maison remains intact, while projects are tailored to the owner’s needs with very different results: from contemporary homes in Paris and Bavaria to a simple Japanese retreat with views of a hot thermal spring and Mount Fuji in the distance.
The latter, a house in Kanagawa, is one of the most beautiful and interesting, given that it led to a collaboration – or dialogue, as Meyer describes it – with Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. “We focused on natural and locally sourced materials, which are traditionally used for domestic buildings and interiors in Japan,” Meyer says of the house, which unfolds through a series of simple white spaces, closed off by movable partitions of Japanese paper stretched across pale cedar frames. “The brushed, black-stained cedar is a reference to shou-sugi-ban, an artisanal technique that consists of burning wood to protect it and make it more durable. The natural cedar and Japanese paper shades are inspired by the hues of the surrounding mountains, rocks and greenery, together with the light and dappled reflections from the nearby lake.”
Natural materials are employed to dramatically different effects in each project, most strikingly in a modernist Munich house where the coffee bar and bathroom are carved from green onyx. “The owners wanted to create a warm and comforting atmosphere, compatible with the daily activities of a family,” Meyer explains, “so the espresso kitchen leads out to a verdant garden and the onyx in the bathroom sets the scene for relaxation and wellbeing. The ceiling and floor are made of two huge onyx blocks – it’s a feat of technical prowess.”
As this book (£60) takes readers through the doors of homes from New Delhi to the Swiss Alps, examples of mood boards, original sketches and black-and-white photography offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the ideas that informed each interior – and ample inspiration for those looking to transform their own homes.