“Cognac”

The Fondation Martell or the art of self-invention

Established at the heart of Cognac’s historic centre, the Fondation d’Entreprise Martell has transformed the Gâtebourse building into a site dedicated to experimentation in savoir-faire: a combination of art, architecture, handicrafts and design. Open and multidisciplinary… A key architectural feature of the town of Cognac, this former cognac-bottling plant, constructed in 1929 as part of the rise of the International Style, is in the midst of being revamped. By 2021, the building’s 5,000 m2 over five floors will gather exhibition spaces, production workshops, a digital platform, a resource centre, a restaurant and a panoramic café. On the strength of its three-century-long history, Martell is commencing a new chapter stretching towards creativity, research and diverse professions. The Fondation Martell, in the words of César Giron, CEO of the Martell, Mumm, Perrier-Jouët group, is “open to the town, the region, the international sphere, with a multidisciplinary vocation.” Nor has it suffered any shortage of funds since its launch in October 2016, as illustrated by its ambitious programme and an endowment of 5 million euros over 5 years. We meet Nathalie Viot, its very dynamic director…   You are behind the Fondation d’Entreprise Martell’s forerunner programme, and since 1 January 2017, you have been the foundation’s director. How did you envisage its cultural identity? I proposed a multidisciplinary foundation without a collection. Firstly, I wanted to avoid conservation, maintenance and insurance issues. The other thing is that if you buy art, you have to follow its market, and it was important for us to stay independent. I come from the world of contemporary art; I was previously artistic advisor for the City of Paris and co-director of the Galerie Chantal Crousel, so I’m very familiar with its ins and outs. Instead, we decided to commission designers and craftspersons to create the foundation’s...

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