Dedicated to the work of the legendary French fashion designer, the new Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech (mYSLm) is made up of cubic forms, in terracotta, concrete and earthen-coloured terrazo with Morrocan stone fragmentd, blending with its surroundings.
The museum will open its doors in autumn 2017. It will house an important selection from the Fondation Pierre Bergé: Yves Saint Laurent’s impressive collection, which comprises 5,000 items of clothing, 15,000 haute couture accessories as well as tens of thousands of sketches and assorted objects, all currently archived in Paris.
The building has been designed by the French architecture firm Studio KO. Founded by Olivier Marty and Karl Fournier, the architects have completed numerous residential and public projects such as the Villa E and Villa K in Morocco, the Chiltern Firehouse in London, and the Balmain boutique in New York.
Situated on Rue Yves Saint Laurent, adjacent to the famous Jardin Majorelle, the new building spans over 4,000 m2 and is more than just a museum. It features a 400 m2 permanent exhibition space, showcasing Yves Saint Laurent’s work within an original scenography designed by Christophe Martin; a 150 m2 temporary exhibition space, a 130-seat auditorium, a bookshop, a café-restaurant with a terrace and a research library housing 5,000 books. The library’s collection includes books on Arabic and Andalusian history, geography, literature and poetry, as well as numerous volumes related to botany, Berber culture, Yves Saint Laurent’s oeuvre and the world of fashion.
“Yves Saint Laurent and I discovered Marrakech in 1966, and we never left. This city deeply influenced Saint Laurent’s life and work, particularly his discovery of colour. The Studio KO architects share this passion for Marrakech. Their admiration for the region and its culture, as well as their intellectual and artistic rigour, signalled to us that they would be the perfect architects to undertake this project. Their clean, uncluttered style recalls Saint Laurent’s work, and we are delighted to be able to develop a common vision for a project of this stature, which is as emblematic as Yves Saint Laurent’s oeuvre,” said Pierre Bergé, president of the Fondation Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint Laurent.
While researching the designer’s archives in Paris, Studio KO was intrigued by the duality between curves and straight lines, and the succession of loose and clean cuts. From the outside, the building is composed of cubic forms adorned with bricks which create a pattern resembling threads of fabric. The inside is markedly different, like the lining of a luxurious couture jacket: luminous, velvety and smooth.
“The Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech succinctly mixes two universes which we know well, and which we both hold particularly dear: Morocco and fashion. We have worked in this country — the same country that so profoundly inspired Saint Laurent – since the start of our careers, and we eventually opened an office here. It is a great pleasure to work alongside the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent on such an ambitious project and contribute in our own way to the legacy of the most influential fashion designer of the 20th century,” said the architects.
The terracotta bricks that embellish the facade are made from Moroccan earth and produced by a local supplier. The terrazzo used for the floor and facade is made using a combination of local stone and marble.
Exceptionally precise methods for conserving textiles have been put in place by the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, which has worked for over a decade towards the archiving of the late designer’s work. In collaboration with X-Art, specialists in preventative conservation, the Marrakech museum will feature an air conditioning system complete with temperature and moisture control to ensure that each item, be it a couture dress from the collection on show in the exhibition space or a rare book in the basement archives, remains preserved in perfect archival condition.
The auditorium’s state-of-the-art acoustics were designed by the architects in collaboration with Theatre Projects Consultant. This will allow for the programming of concerts, film screenings and conferences in a separate and soundproof space. After a thorough study, the lighting engineers I.C.O.N will install the lighting of the external spaces surrounding the museum, the museum’s interior, and the atmospheric lighting for the exhibition space.
The inauguration of the building in Marrakech will be in autumn 2017 and coincide with the new Musée Yves Saint Laurent in Paris. It will be located at 5 Avenue Marceau, in the former fashion house and current headquarters of the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent. Refurbishment of the future exhibition space will begin imminently.