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July 29, 2014

The Secret Garden: Ford Ranch

A Peek Into a Private Wonderland in the American West for this Week's Great Gardens

Nestled in a mountain canyon where Hemingway spent his summers, Queen Elizabeth II popped by to visit friends, and rodeo is still a main event, lies the cultivated oasis of Ford Ranch. Acquired by Joan F. Wallick and Robert L. Wallick Sr. in 1968, the sprawling Wyoming residence is captured by director Albert Moya for NOWNESS’s weekly Great Gardens series. “I was inspired by meeting the kind of dreamer who has, and still is, working on making her stories real,” says the filmmaker of Ms Wallick, an accomplished pilot whose obsessive passion for collecting spans insects, Christmas ornaments (32,656), and over 400 varieties of plants in 35 acres. It’s a marvel to discover radiant blue delphinium spires, hundreds of hostas and the apothecary rose Rosa gallica officinalis blooming alongside the grave of Wallick’s late wolf, Eeyore (winters dip to -30 and summers experience 100 degree heat punctuated by huge thunderstorms). “Part of the joy of gardening lies in the challenge of this environment,” explains Wallick, who has built fences to keep the mountain lions, bears and deer at bay, enabling her manicured paradise to flourish. “I’ve got the urge to plant one of everything and see what it looks like,” she adds. “But that’s for next year.”

The next Great Gardens film premieres Tuesday August 5.

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Hadid Revisited

Zaha's First Building is Brought Back into View by Hélène Binet

Photographer Hélène Binet captures the razor-fine lines, geometric illusions and striking angles of Zaha Hadid’s iconoclastic fire station on the Vitra Campus in Germany. Binet first documented the building when it was unveiled as Hadid’s stunning debut in 1994, ten years before the Iraq-born architect became the first female to win the Pritzker Prize. Recently revisiting the structure, Binet’s recontextualized vistas include a new sculpted piece commissioned by Swarovski, aptly titled “Prima,” a nod to the building’s status as Hadid’s first. “Hadid is a unique architect with a definite sense of freedom,” explains Binet, who has also worked closely with Daniel Libeskind and Peter Zumthor. “Her freedom is expressed by the feeling of continuity in the lines of her buildings and how everything is born out of something, and evolves into something else.” Since 1981, German design company Vitra has invited the most distinguished architects to create buildings on its Weil am Rhein campus, from the Herzog & de Meuron designed Vitrahaus; the company’s flagship store, to a bus stop completed by Jasper Morrison in 2006 and a Frank Gehry designed museum completed in 1989. NOWNESS spoke to Binet about her engagement with architecture and why she thinks Hadid’s buildings are so photogenic.

How was it seeing the fire station 20 years on? Is it how you remembered?
Hélène Binet:
I was there right from the start and it was very different—mainly in that it was Zaha’s first construction, so it was a totally new way of building; there was nothing to compare it to. Going back now, I see it more as a tiny jewel from which many things have grown and evolved. Of course, now the building is also no longer used as a fire station, but it’s in good state and is the start of Zaha’s history. 

Do Hadid’s buildings lend themselves to the lens?
 Her style gives you freedom as a photographer; you feel you don’t have to depict certain classical elements as you do with other buildings such as the windows or doors. You can forget about normal rules and play with lines and curves; you can go back and see her sketches. Of course, her buildings might just be photogenic but this is perhaps too simple!

Is it possible to represent architecture accurately with photography?
It is, but it’s tricky. There is that sense of impossibility that has been my challenge for past 20 years. It’s difficult to capture that three-dimensional quality with photography. For example, sometimes it’s the tinier details that make certain photographs good, not the perspective. Sometimes pictures of buildings can be silent, and what I try to do is evoke some sort of a dream in the photo that can take you back to the reality.

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In Residence: Jean Pigozzi

A Day at the Bon Vivant’s Ettore Sottsass-Designed Pop Paradise

Entrepreneur, art collector, snapshot photographer, and streetwear designer Jean Pigozzi lives large, as filmmaker Matthew Donaldson discovered at Villa Dorane, Pigozzi’s residence-slash-playground in the jetset Cap d’Antibes. The villa is a monumental testament to his long-term collaboration with late Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass, who played a significant role in the design of Pigozzi's seven homes. He inherited the house, built in 1953 by neo-classical architect Tomaso Buzzi, from his father Henri–who founded Simca cars–but it was postmodernist Sottsass who “pimped it out.” A member of the Memphis Group, Sottsass’ playful provocations are evident in the clash of off-kilter geometric furnishings and flamboyant colors, accessorized by Baluchi carpets, kitschy ceramics, and giddy light fixtures. “Ettore would say it was boring to have a normal house, you have to change things around all the time. He was not scared of funny colors and funny things,” says Pigozzi. The jubilant décor is enhanced by pieces from Pigozzi’s extensive African art collection, including photographs by Malick Sidibé and an entrance hall hand-painted in bold motifs by Esther Mahlangu with her trademark chicken-feather brush. Around the hall’s perimeter stand four life-size sculptures of notable R&B singers, including Aretha Franklin, by Ivory Coast artist Nicolas Damas—Pigozzi jokingly calls them his “cousins.” Sottsass makes his biggest impact here with the guest quarters, a blocky architectural feat in multiple shades of green paint and even greener balustrades, the interior kitted out with boxy sofas, chairs and beds in hues reminiscent of 80s-era Esprit fashion. Though the pair would collaborate on every aspect of the design, shapes and colors were strictly down to Sottsass. “He was a complete genius [at those],” says Pigozzi. Villa Dorane attracts a steady stream of “friends, venture capitalists and pretty girls” and Pigozzi’s annual Festival de Cannes party is the stuff of legend. “My main idol in life is Howard Hughes,” he says. “I like how he lived all alone with airplanes and girls, but on the other hand I’m a social animal.”

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