Xavier Corberó’s labyrinthine home near Barcelona
The Catalan sculptor created a maze of arches and niches that inspired his monolithic creations. See how his world becomes the perfect stage for the iconic design of Hans J. Wegner in a seamless visual co-existence.
On the outskirts of Barcelona, a labyrinth of arches, niches and nooks was once home to artist Xavier Corberó. In 1968, the popular Catalan sculptor acquired land in the neighborhood of Esplugues de Llobregat on which he started building his unconventional villa. After a lengthy construction process, the 4,500-square-meter mansion is today a maze spread over nine interconnected buildings with about a dozen courtyards nestled among more than 300 archways. Within these labyrinthine spaces, Carl Hansen & Søn and Hans J. Wegner’s vision, craftsmanship and everlasting design dialogue with Corberó’s universe in an almost metaphysical visual stunt, as if a surrealist painting by De Chirico began interacting with Nordic design.
The organic shapes of Wegner here play with architectural elements reminiscent of the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, commonly known as Colosseo Quadrato (Square Colosseum) in Rome, with its rational forms and play of light and shadow. Here, we incorporated a globally admired icon – the curvaceous CH24 known as the Wishbone Chair – as the center of gravity in a surreal setting. Considered one of Wegner’s masterpieces and a symbol of Scandinavian product design, it is here in symbiosis with Corberó’s idea of living: Two masters, the Catalan artist and Wegner, getting acquainted for the first time and coalescing.
Corberó’s paradoxical mansion presents itself as a palace of interconnected dwellings, blending Arabesque and modern architecture. One might find horseshoe-shaped curves in contrast with rational masonry elements, while some rooms feature monastic, whitewashed walls that cloister a peculiar collection of contemporary furniture. In the main atrium, the CH25 lounge chair connects with standing stones piled in rows of two or three that look like lines of commuters – a design that Corberó continued to favor even at the height of his fame as a sculptor. Over the years, the estate has become an expression of Corberó’s own work and a haven for other artists; here, he hosted a cadre of creatives, Salvador Dalí to name but one.
In his first three weeks collaborating with Carl Hansen & Søn, Wegner crafted the first prototype chairs in tandem with the company’s cabinetmakers. Some of these chairs went on to become classics of modern design, manufactured using advanced production techniques, complex woven patterns and select wood. If Wegner opted for wood to translate his vision into empirical reality, Corberó favored stone, specifically quartz limestone and silicon-rich marble sourced at Catalan quarries. Different medium, same attitude, as both contemporary art and furniture were created with timeless materials, granted by the earth yet strikingly modern.
The CH22, CH23 and CH26, also imbued with the same fundamental Wegner DNA, have stood the test of time, becoming standards of contemporary interior design and stylistic codes able to communicate with Xavier Corberó’s world. A world apparently farfetched, full of mystery, mystique, sinuosity, play of light, but on par with Wegner’s imagination.
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