The Framed Walls of Villa d'Arte
What we display on our walls reveals so much about the lives we have lived. Take Villa d'Arte on the French Riviera. At first glance, its gallery-like walls don't seem especially personal. Dig a little deeper, however, and the story unfurls.
The home is owned by Hans Dietvorst and Jochen Runkel, two fashion industry professionals from Amsterdam who recently decamped to the south of France. "After both working more than 30 years in global fashion, we really wanted to start a new chapter in our lives," Hans tells us.
They moved to the sunny surrounds of medieval hilltop village Biot, where they created a new home, the quietly glamorous Villa d'Arte. At the same time, Hans embarked on another new venture, an online art gallery humiio, in partnership with photographer Jens van der Velde. Their shared passion for photography inspired them to curate a selection of graphic art and photographs for sale in custom-made frames, with this motto: "Only if it makes us happy".
The two projects now overlap, with these frames giving the villa "its unique twist". It's a home that's full of art, and there are not just frames here and there. Sometimes, the walls are full of them. And inside the frames, there are moments of joy.
The contents of the frames are a mix of photographs and graphic art that's available on humiio, with additional prints by famous and not-so-famous photographers, all carefully selected by Hans and Jochen.
What makes it truly personal, however, is that Hans is one of the featured artists. "I have a big passion for architecture," he tells us, "and I love to photograph buildings against very bright blue skies.
"I love to convert these color pictures into heavy noir black-and-white pictures, edited by my co-founder Jens, where the contrast becomes even more evident and a certain graphic approach appears."
Take the image above. In August 2010, Hans was in New York City for work, and found himself under a towering facade on 6th Avenue and West 51st Street, near Rockerfeller Center. This is one of the images he took that day, and a print is currently on display in the villa.
Closer to home, one sunny day in October 2019, he was visiting the Josep Lluís Sert-designed art gallery, Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul de Vence, when he was again drawn to the skyline. "My eyes were taken by the stunning designed roof against the perfect clear blue sky," he says. Two of the series of four images are currently on the walls of Villa d'Arte.
Photographs courtesy of Hans Dietvorst and Jochen Runkel.