Palais Bulles by Antti Lovag.

Between utopia and futurism, this curvaceous architectural madness never ceases to fascinate.

An unreal vision on the heights of the Esterel, overlooking the bay of Cannes in south of France, the Palais Bulles is a UFO with its different architectural universe. Built in 1984, as a cluster of bubbles, by the industrial patron Pierre Bernard and the architect-surgeon Antti Lovag, the residence was bought in 1992 by Pierre Cardin, seduced by its sensual and organic curves. Punctuated with multiple terraces and pools nestled in the rock, this labyrinthine house of 1200 square meters offers an enchanting panorama of the Mediterranean. Everywhere this same ocher color adds to the softness of its infinite curves.

These spherical shapes extend inside with custom-designed furniture by contemporary artists to marry the walls of its ten suites. In order to live a complete experience, the venue also offers, as part of private parties, a 500-seat amphitheater, a reception room and a panoramic lounge.

The architect, Lovag, first designed the Palais Bulles as an experiment. He saw architecture as a “form of play—spontaneous, joyful, full of surprise,” and hated the straight line. He once called the straight line “an aggression against nature,” which was radical for its time.

Richard Zarzi, an artist who has lived in Cannes for 20 years, has hope for the next owner of Palais Bulles. “I would like the new owner to open it up to the public as a venue to be used for parties and the Cannes Film Festival,” said Zarzi. “The building is historic and an architectural beauty so worth showing off.

“Pierre Cardin was a great designer; his avant-garde style and spaces were legendary,” he adds. “He had a really long and beautiful life.”

The exterior of the 28 round rooms is sandy brown colored concrete, bumpy with skylights, of course also circular, scattered like lunar bulges. The skeleton of the cave-inspired villa is made of lightweight mesh and rods.

Waterfalls spill into blue pools of divine radi. The interior continues the site’s eschewal of traditional geometry, outfitting its 10 bedroom suites with round beds like blown-up pin cushions, curved bookshelves, and sphere-inspired fine and decorative works made and selected by contemporary artists.

On the Bay of Cannes and in the mountain range Massif de l’Esterel, Palais Bulles sits “between sea and sky.” The private property may be at a point of intersecting magnificence of natural phenomena, but its roofless curves and cave-like corridors, before unseen in private home architecture, are more than anything cosmic.

Models walk the runway during a Dior fashion show in 2016

The architect defined himself, with gentle irony, as an “habitologist”. In his dreams, everything was to be round, smooth, and soft, helping bodies, ideas, and feelings to flow freely.

In his the Palais Bulles of Pierre Cardin, published by Assouline, Jean-Pascal Hesse, a close associate of the couturier, relates the story of this amazing villa, the brainchild of three pioneering men: Pierre Bernard, Antti Lovag, and Pierre Cardin.

Antti Lovag & Pierre Bernard
Pierre Cardin

The home was listed in 2017 for $420 million, but it didn’t sell. It is known to local real estate brokers as the place nobody wants to buy, despite being an incredible masterpiece in its own right. It has been on the market for years, but Christie’s International Real Estate sales agent Michael Zingraf declined to comment whether Palais Bulles was still on the market.


– Antti Lovag

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