FRÉDÉRIC MÉCHICHE | Orientalist purity in Provence

Provence, France. Villa Aziyadé was conceived by a Swiss architect in 1894 as a small marabout-shaped pavilion, known for its distinctive domed roof design in the manner of a sanctuary. Intended as a country retreat, not as a sprawling villa, the architect designed a labyrinthine arrangement of rooms and very high ceilings, a miniature palace reminiscent of the Thousand and One Nights. The connection between the internal and external spaces is further unified by floors covered with black and white tiles with a diamond pattern, a graphic statement repeated in much of Méchiche’s work.

Méchiche had retired to his minimalist home in St. Tropez for several years before acquiring Aziyadé. Although he loved the relaxed pace of his Mediterranean retreat, he longed for a deeper connection with nature. His first intervention was to remove years of unsightly additions and restore the villa to its former glory. He reminded him of the house that his father had built for his family in Algiers when he was a child, where Orientalist interpretations tend to the side of simplification and purity.

With that vision, Méchiche decided to combine oriental pieces with Napoleon III furniture in the decoration of his villa, scouring the antique shops and markets of Algiers, Samarkand, Cairo, Jerusalem and Istanbul, as well as London, Paris and the French Riviera. Set on a crisp white envelope, Méchiche’s interiors are bright, uplifting and serenely exotic.