How will the museum enhance and support the local art and design community?
We would like the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech (www.museeyslmarrakech.com) to become a meeting place, one filled with discovery and debates, a cultural and social channel available to all, and especially Moroccans and Marrakchis – we are certainly aiming to become a dynamic cultural centre. In addition to the permanent YSL exhibition hall will be a hall devoted to temporary exhibitions with various themes taken from art, décor, fashion, ethnography and botany. We look forward to partnering with the Marrakech Biennale, to encourage the work of both Moroccan and international artists. The museum’s auditorium will be the venue for a wide range of events (concerts, performances, film screenings, conferences, and live, high-definition broadcasts from prestigious opera houses and theatres worldwide). The museum will also house a research library with over 5,000 volumes about Islamic and Arab-Andalusian culture, the Berber people, botany and fashion.
Can you describe the inspiration behind Studio KO’s design of the museum?
Pierre Bergé [editor’s note: Bergé passed away on September 8, 2017] asked the architects to design a building that was contemporary and Moroccan at the same time, which is exactly what they’ve done. Contrasting curves and cube-shaped volumes are harmoniously combined; the proportions are pleasing and at a human scale. Local material such as brick has been used to adorn the exterior walls of the museum. The setting and alignment of the bricks evoke the warp and weft of a fabric. The predominance of rose-coloured granito set alongside the red bricks perfectly situates the building within its environment, Marrakech, which is often referred to as the “Ochre City”.
What was one of the biggest challenges that you overcame during the realisation of this museum?
The schedule! The late Mr Bergé wanted this project to be finished as soon as possible. This 4,000-square-metre building used a complex architectural programme that took only 19 months, which was a challenge.
What will the biggest fans of Yves Saint Laurent find most fascinating about the mYSLm experience?
Beyond specific YSL models, I assume the visitors will be rather moved by the general ambiance we created to celebrate the couturier. The architects have been keeping surprises in store. The interior circular patio will be a sensory experience that I’m sure the public will enjoy very much. Exhibition-wise, we enlisted the scenographer Christophe Martin to design the main Yves Saint Laurent exhibition hall. Here one will find iconic work from the couturier’s career inspired by the masculine-feminine dynamic, his imaginary voyages, magical and extravagant evenings, art; work that often resonates with a definite Moroccan and African influence. Vintage prototypes created by Yves Saint Laurent will be showcased against a black and minimal screen that will serve as background, and the audio-visual element will play an important role in bringing the collections to life through movement. This very moving installation bringing together Saint Laurent’s voice, portraits, animated sketches and music, will no doubt leave a strong impression on the visitors’ minds.
What do you personally find most exciting about mYSLm?
We seem to have been reaching the demanding standards we imposed on ourselves at the beginning of this adventure: challenging architecture combined with a varied cultural programme. I’m so proud to have achieved this ambitious project in a very short period of time. I am looking forward to seeing the visitors’ first reactions when the museum opens to the public.
How does the museum relate to the nearby Jardin Majorelle, which was purchased by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé?
The garden and the museum are strongly connected; the museum wouldn’t exist without the garden. The Jardin Majorelle had a significant impact on YSL’s work and life, stimulating him as well. This is where for decades he would come for two weeks twice a year to design his collection. He once said he had a “passion for these gardens”. Both sites are administrated by a single foundation, the Fondation Jardin Majorelle.
For the traveller to Marrakech looking to experience the destination as Yves Saint Laurent would have, what places would you recommend visiting?
Firstly, the Jardin Majorelle of course, where people can still feel the YSL spirit and understand his passion for gardens and colours. YSL liked very much the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square where he would often go and have a walk through the medina. La Mamounia hotel was one of his favourite places, too. I know that La Trattoria, one of the first Italian restaurants to open in Marrakech, located in the Gueliz district, was a place he liked to go. It was originally decorated by a close friend of his, the American architect Bill Willis.