The Aesthete: Jean Nouvel talks personal taste

The Pritzker Prize-winning architect’s projects include the Arab World Institute, the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the forthcoming 53W53 in New York

Jean Nouvel
Jean Nouvel | Image: Emmanuel Fradin

My personal style signifier is my Yohji Yamamoto black clothing – dress shirts, traditionally cut trousers and a jacket – which I wear for three seasons of the year. I switch to white versions from June to September, because I’m typically in the south of France and more comfortable in lighter clothes. 14/15 Conduit St, London W1 (020-7491 4129; yohjiyamamoto.co.jp). 

The last thing I bought and loved was a very minimal black Swatch watch, the Once Again GB743. I don’t buy much, but when I do, it is something functional, simple and made of practical materials. This watch is basic: there’s no messing around. £32; swatch.com.

Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art

And the thing I’m eyeing next is a book by one of my idols, Edgar Morin. I love this French philosopher/sociologist’s writing, and I am looking forward to reading The Cinema, or The Imaginary Man, which delves into imagination and human nature. $19.95; University of Minnesota Press.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Williamstown, Massachusetts. The landscape in autumn in the Berkshire mountains, with the brilliant red and orange foliage, was the most beautiful I’ve seen in my life. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in nearby North Adams is an exceptional museum with incredible works by Sol LeWitt, and the Clark Art Institute is another world-class institution. Clark Art Institute, 225 South St, Williamstown, MA 01267 (+1413-458 2303; clarkart.edu). MASS MoCA, 87 Marshall St, North Adams, MA 01247 (+1413-662 2111; massmoca.org). 

Advertisement

The best gift I’ve given recently was 96 bottles of wine to my father for his 96th birthday. I always give him wine and this year it was Château d’Yquem – one of his favourites. yquem.fr

And the best one I’ve received was a beautiful original drawing by Claude Parent, from his widow Naad.

From left: Swatch Once Again GB743 watch, £32. Château d’Yquem, one of the wines Nouvel gave his father for his birthday. Eau des Baux by L’Occitane, £46 for 100ml. Nouvel’s Fedora by Motsch for Hermès
From left: Swatch Once Again GB743 watch, £32. Château d’Yquem, one of the wines Nouvel gave his father for his birthday. Eau des Baux by L’Occitane, £46 for 100ml. Nouvel’s Fedora by Motsch for Hermès | Image: Emmanuel Fradin

A recent “find” is Cartet, a French restaurant near Place de la République. It is like a museum of classic cuisine with specialities such as duck à l’orange and veal chops garnished with morels. With madeleines, chocolate mousse and tarte au citron all placed before you at the end of the meal, dining here is a bit of a wonderful disaster. 62 Rue de Malte, 75011 Paris (+331-4805 1765). 

In my fridge you’ll always find foie gras from my home town of Fumel, good wine, chocolate, fruit and cheese, including comté, Roquefort, camembert and chèvre. 

The Cinema, or the Imaginary Man by Edgar Morin
The Cinema, or the Imaginary Man by Edgar Morin

My favourite room in my house is my TV room. I am a huge fan of football and rugby, and I love to wash my brain by watching sport. The room is all black and features one of the same beautiful steel stars I used in the dome of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi. louvreabudhabi.ae.

The last thing I added to my wardrobe was a black fedora by Motsch for Hermès, which was steamed to fit my head perfectly. It is highly practical. hermes.com.

Advertisement

The grooming product I’m never without is Eau des Baux by L’Occitane. It has a very specific scent of cypress, which reminds me of the south of France. £46 for 100ml; loccitane.com.

If I didn’t live in Paris, the city I would live in is Nice. I love the setting: it’s on the sea, with beautiful light, and the climate is perfect. I am particularly fond of the old town and the Mont Boron fortification and park. The Yves Klein room at the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain is a highlight, as is one of my favourite brasseries, Le Safari. It serves simply prepared artichokes, fresh scampi and fish with a Provençal twist. I like this straightforward cuisine. MAMAC, Place Yves Klein, 06364 Nice (+334-9713 4201; mamac-nice.org). Le Safari, 1 Cours Saleya, 06300 Nice (+334-9380 1844; restaurantsafari.fr). 

An object I would never part with is my black Persol sunglasses. They fold easily to fit in my pocket, and I am never without them. 714 Series, from £196; persol.com.

See also

Advertisement
Loading