Librairies of La Laiterie
La Laiterie of Domaine des Etangs, place of curiosity and knowledge. Made of stone and wood, it is solid and reassuring. It reminds us of a time when everything was slower and more durable. The Dairy is today the rustic showcase of an immense knowledge and way of a life. It shelters great beauties.
Past, present and future combine in the service of curiosity and knowledge.
On the ground floor of La Laiterie is a vast, fully modular exhibition space ready to
accommodate all types of works, either exhibited on picture rails or installed inside
elegant structures set up for the occasion. Receptions and exceptional events can also be organized. The very high ceiling has allowed two mezzanines to be installed at
each end. Two spaces facing each other, so similar yet so different...
There are two spaces to read, learn or work, two libraries that contain much more than books. Everything has been designed to establish a successful dialogue between
content and container. One cannot exist without the other. A miracle of chance or fate, this piece, dating from the 1930s and over 8 metres long, fits perfectly - to the nearest centimetre - on the mezzanine wall. At each end of the building are two mezzanines. They communicate above the central exhibition space, face one another, and complement each other. On the left is that of the past, on the right that of the future. Between the two, a present always in movement represented by the works
exhibited in the gallery.
“The library represents transmission, a link between past, present and future. This knowledge, this wisdom must be preserved and sustained in a time that is one
The two mezzanines were designed by Raphael Navot. He is passionate about high-craft and genuine materials. He believes that when attention is given to details, the spaces we live in become generous and welcoming.
All of the designed elements, from structural features, furniture and accessories were especially drawn for La Laiterie. During one year, he has called upon local artisans and high-end craftsmen to realize the works. Much of the materials were sourced in the region of the Domaine, such as the floating chalk stone tables and the wooden ‘bridge’ benches spread across the gallery space.
“Everything begun with a brief about time. How could we present the books, preserve them, consult them? How could we highlight the past without making a museum, simply by re-inscribing it in the present ?”
THE LIBRARY OF THE PAST
Time is made infinite here thanks to the interplaying mirrors placed on each side of the large bookcase of the 1934 Bibliotheque Nationale. Thus one can imagine the greatness of the whole to which it belonged and the immensity of the knowledge it contained.
For Raphael Navot, everything is about materiality. For the library of the past, he adopted the codes of the gentlemen’s club, the atmosphere of the English smoking room, treating them with the necessary distance for a totally assumed modernity. The floor is made of the traditional End-Grain smoked oak. The good old Chesterfield is rendered as an oversized meridienne couch. The colours are rich and deep, the materials noble: oak, aged leather, velvet, wool, silk, and mohair.
Above it all, an oval ceiling light floats, a line of light composed of black steel and LEDs. It catches the eye, underlines the space, as does, just opposite, its twin above the library of the future since the dialogue is always continuous between the two spaces.
THE LIBRARY OF THE FUTURE
Everything is softer, clearer, rounder. You walk along a circular route that lets you go around books both literally and figuratively.
The cabinet containing the works, a contemporary response to the old library, is minimal, designed as if with a quill. In the reading room, the books are presented on
the paper side, reinforcing the impression of serenity and lightness that emanates from this space.
On the walls of the mezzanine runs a continuous display made of Corian, which can display about sixty books standing and flat. The books become exhibition objects
themselves, changing according to events, seasons, moods...
A monumental sofa more than six metres long embodies contemporary comfort. It is accompanied by large Charentes stone tables which, despite their density, seem to defy gravity and float above the ground. This aerial library is a space capsule that lifts the soul towards an enlightened, luminous future.
Nicky Dunne is the owner of Heywood Hill, a bookstore in the London district of Mayfair, known worldwide to book lovers. He listens to all kinds of passions, interests or desires and helps them to build personalized libraries made of new or old books sourced from his own shelves or from collectors. And in order to offer his clients the most relevant or specialized works, he enlists the help of experts, when necessary.
“At the heart of these libraries are books that have provided positive answers to the questions that humanity has always asked. Each of these books has allowed us to acquire new knowledge about the world and nature or to be inspired by it in a creative way.”
He assisted Garance Primat in the selection and acquisition of the books in the two libraries, building a corpus of works in English and French. For the library of the past, the books date from before 1920; for that of the future, from 1920 to today. In both cases, they are proposed to the reader in six “entry points”: Transmission, Sky and Cosmos, Land and Landscape, Observation, Experience, Experimentation.
These points of contact with books make it possible never to remain confined in one category of works. They encourage contact among disciplines and different types
“The selection of books is in keeping with the themes that are dear to me and that the Domaine des Etangs transmits. It tells the story of creation from the Big Bang to the present day with the same link to Nature and the Nature of things. The Domaine des Etangs is a place of inspiration, creation, even meditation, and La Laiterie now fully participates in this spirit that the place inspires.”