“Architectural projects begin with an understanding of the environment. The architect must understand which elements should be highlighted and which elements need to be protected in order to create an interaction between nature and the building.” This is the philosophy behind the architecture firm of Olivier Dain, a Frenchman who spends his time between St Barths and Geneva. He never studied architecture – he was a fighter pilot, in the supermarket business and a developer – but has a team of skilled and talented (and handsome!!!) people working with him. He’s convinced that “a well-designed home is a source of health and positive energy. Just like a musical score, architectural elements must combine to create harmony together.” And on an island as green and hilly like St Barths nothing can be more true.
I had the pleasure of visiting two of Olivier’s homes with my friends Erin Wasson and Brandon Palas. “Wings” is built on a hill overlooking Jean beach and his personal home, West Cliff House is on the outskirts of the capital, Gustavia. Both are modern buildings with multiple levels, deep blue pools, natural stones, indigenous plants and lots of white surfaces. They are zen, minimal havens of peace and calm, standing amicably among the elements. There is shade when you need it and blasting sun when you want it. I loved the Jean Charles de Castelbajac mural in the garage of Wings and the flower mosaic at the Gustavia house. And I think we, as humans, in our black and white outfits, fit right in…!
On Erin: Black jumpsuit by A.L.C.; Espadrilles from Clic Gallery in Gustavia; Bikini by Norma Kamali; Sunglasses from Urban Outfitters; Body chain by Sarah Perlis; Custom ‘Whatever’ pendant by artist Henry Vincent.
On Joos: White two-piece by Carven; Multi colored, striped sandals by Tanya Taylor for Paul Andrew; Pink and leopard sunglasses by Sheriff & Cherry; White and silver sandals by Teva + Glamour for All; White crochet bikini by Kiini Swimwear; Mirrored sunglasses by Ray-Ban.
Photos by Natalie Joos and Brandon Palas.
Thank you Cecilia Pelloux at My Lola PR St Barths for the introduction.