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Think Design Magazine, Phuket by Michael Earle: A VILLA IN THE FOREST

Phuket has many impressive and unusual villas. As a place that caters to luxury living, the building of luxury villas is not surprising.
Fuengirola, Fuengirola, Spain (pr4links.com) 14/07/2011
Phuket has many impressive and unusual villas. As a place that caters to luxury living, the building of luxury villas is not surprising. Among the many villas valued in the Millions of US dollars, a villa in Talang is unusual in many aspects. Most of the exclusive villas here are set on a hillside overlooking the beach, usually in gated communities. This property defies expectations with a natural and lush environment, surrounded by trees, chirping birds and natural water features. A property like this set on several acres is unusual indeed.

Marc De Champeaux is the owner of The Gallery, an exclusive showroom for Chinese art, from traditional to contemporary. De Champeaux, who was born in New York, moved to Phuket about five years ago, after spending many years in other parts of Asia. He grew up in Paris where he first developed his design sense, before later spending twenty years living in China. While in China, De Champeaux got involved in the garment and fashion industry, including creating a fashion brand for Chinese youth. This grew over time to a brand with seventeen shops in various cities around China. His shops in Phuket, The Gallery, offer many varieties of Chinese antiques, and an assortment of carved figures and paintings. Oil paintings of late Chairman Mao Tse-Tung and other political statement art is on show in his shops.

When you enter his villa from the road, you are led through a natural garden with trees all around you, water features offering soothing sounds as you near the house. The villa itself is entered through a long elevated deck, bordered on one side by a long infinity pool. Behind the pool and fading off to the distance is a tropical forest with a big pond and some unusual natural features, including fields and varieties of Palm. On the left as you enter, sit a series of long minimalist structures, joined in form and detailing by the deck on which you stand. As you enter the main central building, a cavernous room opens up in front of you. A large great room presents itself as a vast space, shaped and adorned by countless pieces of contemporary art as well as traditional. The initial feeling is one of the space having been designed for the art, acting as a mere frame for the work within. The sense of ample room, easily fitting a massive sofa, which seems to be able to seat twenty by itself, a large billiards table and a generous dining area is palpable. Between the art around and above you, and the well arranged décor, the room does not feel cold or overbearing but welcoming instead, yet the space is so large, it can easily contain an interior water feature with a lovely pond full of carp. The eye works the room, glancing at the art from piece to piece, darting from painting to sculpture and back. The structure is black and the ceiling and furniture white so the artwork itself is given centre stage with it’s variety of colour. The construction has been handled in a minimalist way, as a set of hangars where the air moves freely, green plants and trees enter the space and the landscape itself becomes part of the design. The walls are almost exclusively glass but maintain privacy through the use of natural vegetation. The central space opens up towards the pool and view, with the main deck becoming part of it, part interior, part exterior. With large trusses supporting the simple roof above, two large Chinese sculptures guard each side of the main deck as though gazing at the view themselves.

A massive canopy protects one side of the deck from the blazing sun, also hanging over the pool itself, creating a visual link towards the view. The large wooden plank floor also reinforces the art gallery feeling that pervades the main living area. On either side of the main building, sit two ancillary bedroom buildings where a variety of bedrooms take advantage of fuller and thicker vegetation for increased privacy. These bedrooms are also well supported by art pieces and make each room unique both in view and in decoration. Returning to the main room, a large industrial kitchen affords the luxury that few restaurants even have, the space to cook for dozens simultaneously. Overall, this property is unique in Phuket and allows the visitor to see what can be achieved with a remarkable site and great design vision. For more information please contact Blueprint Unique Living. Words by Michael Earle.


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