Villa Noailles was built over 10 years (1923-1933) by the architect Rob Mallet-Stevens, under the direction of Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles. It applies the founding principles of the Modernist movement: functionality, terraces, light, cleanliness, and purged of any decoration.
Villa Noailles was decorated by an impressive list of artists: Louis Barillet for the stained-glass windows; Pierre Chareau, Eileen Gray, Djo-Bourgeois and Francis Jourdain for the furniture; Gabriel Guévrékian for the cubist garden; Piet Mondrian, Henri Laurens, Jacques Lipchitz, Constantin Brancusi or Alberto Giacometti for the artwork.
Originally, the small Cubist garden, shaped like an isosceles triangle and situated along the axis of the door to the living room, alternated between squares of water and plants. A chequerboard of colourful ceramics ended at the point of the triangle with a jet of water and an animated Lipchitz statue, ‘la joie de vivre’, but these have now disappeared. Along the sides, triangular flowerbeds descended in a zig-zag pattern, and the large vegetable gardens created optical illusions to emphasise the avenue.
Quickly destroyed by bad weather, the garden was simplified and planted with agave in 1933, but ended up disappearing. It was rebuilt in 1986.
An iconic symbol of modernity, the Villa Noailles is now an art centre. A permanent exhibition is dedicated to its sponsors – Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles. Temporary exhibitions, conferences and children’s workshops about fashion, design, photography and architecture complete the line-up. Two international festivals are organised here each year: the International Festival of Fashion and Photography in spring and the Design Parade in summer.
Both from noble families, Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles married in 1923. Collectors and lovers of modernity, audacity and novelty, they devoted part of their lives to supporting all aspects of art and thought.