The French-Italian designer Pierre Cardin, born in Italy in 1922 with the name Pietro Cardin, has graced the world with his controversial futuristic designs and his love of geometric shapes. The enduring influence from the years when he studied architecture in Paris is still palpable. At the age of 91, Cardin has become an inspiration for men and women the world over.
Better known for his work in fashion, Cardin is also passionate about cars and collaborated with American Motors Corporation (AMC) in the 1970s for the design of some of their vehicles.
A lesser-known fact about the designer is his interest in architecture and buildings. In 1975 he designed, in collaboration with architect Antti Lovag, Le Palais Bulles, a palatial estate in Cannes, and in 1981 he bought Maxim in Paris. He would later open branches of the iconic restaurant in New York, London and Beijing.
Pierre Cardin receives The Lion of Veneto Award in Venice.
He also likes palaces. In 2001 he bought the ruins of the French chateau, which used to belong to the Marquis de Sade, in the French village of Lacoste. He renovated it and it is currently used to celebrate music and dance festivals. Years later he acquired the Palace of Ca’Bragadin in the city of Venice.
His most recent full-time project is Palais Lumière (Palace of Light). At the age of 91, the designer is planning the construction of a luxury-building complex designed by him in collaboration with his nephew, architect Rodrigo Basilicati. Palais Lumière could be built just five miles from the center of Venice.
Palais lumiere by night.
So far there is only a piece of land located in an industrial area of the city where Cardin intends to build the Palace of Light, which takes its name from the profusion of transparent walls that allow natural interior lighting. The projected building will include residences, offices, public spaces, cultural centers, and even a university devoted to fashion design.
The project will be built on 47 acres, and the building will reach 820 feet in height with 65 floors. It will feature apartments ranging from 538 to 4400 square feet and a hotel with 470 rooms and suites. The swimming pools, terraces and gardens will be located on the penthouse.
For his Venetian palace, which would be totally ecological, Cardin has a budget between 1.5 and 2 billion euros. It has already been approved by the Mayor of Venice, Giorgio Orsoni, although authorization from other governmental institutions is still pending, including the Ministry of Culture.
However, the project has met opposition from residents of the historic city, especially the more conservative, who think the tower will infringe on the historical and architectural spirit of Venice. Likewise, historians, architects and intellectuals have joined to send a letter to President Giorgio Napolitano asking him to impede the realization of the project.
The initial idea is to go ahead with the construction and complete it in time for the Milan Expo 2015, and if everything goes right, groundwork will begin this year. By 2015 Pierre Cardin should have his futuristic Venetian palace. ■