In Residence: Rolf Sachs

The Renowned Designer and Artist Shows Us Around His St. Moritz Hideaway

Rolf Sachs hurtles down a toboggan run made from natural ice and invites us into his high art-bedecked Swiss mountain retreat in the first installment of our new film series, In Residence. Directed by Matthew Donaldson, today’s short tells the story of the building that was originally erected for the 1928 Winter Olympics, when officials and VIPs filled stands on the roof and a band played national anthems from the balcony. Sachs rescued the structure from dereliction, restored it to its former glory and brought in a period-relevant collection of design. “It is very clearly a Bauhaus building, a functional building. There are no decorative aspects,” says Sachs, who has paired the utilitarian architecture with pieces from Dutch furniture maker Gerrit Rietveld and the Suprematist movement. Sachs is at the heart of St. Moritz life. “I’m very involved with everything in town. The locals accept me as a local,” says the 57-year-old designer,  a committee member of many clubs, including the St. Moritz Tobogganing Club that maintains the town’s famous Cresta Run. His connection to the Engadine region was the subject of his recent exhibition Herzschuss in St. Moritz, in which he poetically reinterpreted some of the familiar motifs of the region. “Having been brought up here I understand all of the materials, the originality of this place,” he says. “One aspect that is especially fascinating is the light. It is crystal clear, making it look like the horizon has been cut out with scissors.”

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Conversations (2)

  • Rowland Scherman
    Not enough "residence" and too much face in a mask and bobsled footage...
    • Posted By Rowland Scherman
    • March 25, 2013 at 9:12AM
    • Share Comment:
  • Franco De Rose
    Passion should be contagious....

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    Lily Donaldson’s Flying Hair

    A Slow-mo Session with Sam McKnight

    Internationally renowned hairstylist Sam McKnight teases out the unseen calm in two seconds of a thrashing blonde mane in this slow-motion film shot by photographer Matthew Donaldson. As his model daughter Lily spins 360 degrees, her hair buffeted by four wind machines, Donaldson stretches two seconds into two hypnotic minutes, capturing every exquisite movement at 1,000 frames per second. In a world where technology is increasingly maligned for encouraging us to hide from reality, there is a welcome irony here: Using the super-high definition Phantom Gold HD—a camera initially developed for monitoring missile flights—Donaldson distills a hyper-real tranquility. The film is also a paean to Ara Gallant, one of the great session hairdressers of the 1960s and the inventor of the “flying hair” technique. “I love using wind on hair, and I love anything to do with the outdoors—like windy beaches and mountains,” McKnight says. Not that nature is required for coveted bouncy locks. “The two girls who could move their hair without any wind machines were Linda Evangelista and Yasmin Le Bon,” he reminisces. “They were legendary for the ability to shake their hair even slightly and it could fill two pages.” Working with make-up artist Val Garland and a suitably dreamy soundtrack by Zero 7, McKnight and Donaldson have created a film with a poignant message: Life may be ephemeral and precious—but isn’t it beautiful?
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    Through a Glass Brightly

    Director William Snieg Conjures an Underwater Ballet with Crystal and Clouds

    Submerged glasses and decanters by fine crystalware makers Lobmeyr, Baccarat and Saint Louis are animated with billows of color in this short by Parisian art director William Snieg. Collaborating with set designer Marcel van Doorn—who devised the formula for the multihued injections—and interior stylist and regular Wallpaper* contributor Leila Latchin, Snieg aimed to capture the elegant movements of the mixed-liquid clouds as if a magical ballet. “I wanted to transcribe the grace of these figures, that look sometimes like fine silk, sometimes like a smoky mist, against a pure base—crystal,” explains Snieg, who art directs campaigns and short films for Louis Vuitton and Dior. In selecting the crystal, Latchin sourced from companies whose centuries-long histories are filled with stories. “Lobmeyr, Baccarat and Saint Louis have all attracted prestigious clients requesting extraordinary commissions,” she explains. “Each boasts an incredible archive and masterful artisans whose skill transforms molten crystal into these exquisite pieces.” 


    Featured crystalware

    Lobmeyr drinking set no. 240
    This very thin crystal, blown to a thickness of 0.7 to 1.1mm, is referred to as “muslin glass,” after the finely woven fabric. It looks very delicate but is remarkably resilient due to its elasticity and construction.

    Baccarat’s Harcourt decanter and glasses
    Designed in 1841 (making it the oldest set in the collection), the flat facet cut magnifies the light in the crystal.

    Saint Louis Bartholdi decanter
    Founded in the 16th century and named after King Louis XV, Saint Louis is the oldest of the three companies. The decanter is engraved with many facets decorated with Venetian cuts.

    More stats

    Secret Science
    Marcel Van Doorn’s undisclosed formula mixes a white liquid base (with a greater density than water) with powerful dyes to create a glittering color and graceful movement. 

    A glass tank was filled with water and the crystalware carefully submerged and composed. Various techniques introduced the dyes into the tank—after that it was up to the liquids to work their magic.

    One tank collapsed during shooting as the water pressure on its wall was too great, and a second also finished in the trash. 

    Over 600 liters of water were used.

    Cloud colors
    Klein blue; byzantium purple; vermillion; lemon yellow; fuschia.

    The Red Epic, a video camera that shoots close-up details at 240 frames per second in 2,000 pixel resolution. The lens was a Zeiss Master Prime (one of cinema’s best). 

    Acceleration/deceleration from 1,000% up to 2,000%. Color calibration executed with DaVinci Resolve.

    Shoot duration
    Nine hours.


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