is­land of mem­o­ries


Architectural Digest (UAE) - - Portfolio - WORDS TALIB CHOUDHRY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY KATE MAR­TIN

“The colours of the Caribbean have al­ways been strong. The sun makes them come alive”

The wa­ter is the most mirac­u­lous colour,” says Maja Hoff­man, de­scrib­ing the daz­zling azure of the Caribbean Sea as it laps the coral­white sand on the pri­vate is­land of Mustique. “My house is lo­cated di­rectly on Princess Mar­garet Beach, which is very beau­ti­ful and se­cluded. I swim twice a day and it’s like par­adise.”

The view to the sea from the ba­nana or­chard at La­goon Guest­house is in­deed the stuff of desert is­land dreams. Look­ing back from the beach, the sight of the res­o­lutely con­tem­po­rary prop­erty is equally ex­tra­or­di­nary. While the ar­chi­tec­tural styles of the 104 homes on Mustique vary widely – from colo­nial plan­ta­tion houses and Ba­li­nese-style bun­ga­lows to frothy mid-cen­tury fol­lies – Hoff­man’s is ar­guably the most strik­ing.

De­signed by the Vene­tian-born New York ar­chi­tect Raf­faella Bor­toluzzi, the gleam­ing, fu­tur­is­tic build­ing is made up of a se­ries of can­tilevered con­crete-and-steel cubes with tiered ter­races and pools.

“I could have bought an ex­ist­ing house but I’ve al­ways wanted to build one my­self in Mustique,” ex­plains Hoff­man, who also owns the more tra­di­tional neigh­bour­ing villa Gel­liceux, hav­ing built Neaubau La­goon House in its grounds. “I wanted some­thing unique. It takes in­spi­ra­tion from Latin Amer­i­can ar­chi­tec­ture and and looks ex­per­i­men­tal, but it’s re­ally just a beach house. At first, plan­ning per­mis­sion was blocked but I think, peo­ple un­der­stand and like what we’ve done now. It has be­come a land­mark on the is­land.”

The Gs­taad, Lon­don and New York-based bil­lion­aire art col­lec­tor and ad­vo­cate is no stranger to con­tro­versy to sur­round­ing ar­chi­tec­tural in­ter­ven­tions. Hoff­man re­port­edly do­nated €150 mil­lion of her con­sid­er­able phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals for­tune to fund the cre­ation of a Frank Gehry-de­signed ‘art and ideas re­source build­ing’ in Ar­les, South­ern France, where she grew up.

More than a decade af­ter the project was an­nounced (pro­vok­ing much op­po­si­tion) the faceted alu­minium com­plex rises de­fi­antly in the cen­tre of the um­ber-hued town. Whether it’s ar­chi­tec­ture or art, Hoff­man favours nur­tur­ing ex­per­i­men­tal projects that oth­er­wise might not have the chance to ex­ist, and the Luma Foun­da­tion (named af­ter her chil­dren Lu­cas and Ma­rina) sup­ports in­de­pen­dent artists and spon­sors cul­tural, ed­u­ca­tional and en­vi­ron­men­tal ini­tia­tives. Although Ar­les is home, Hoff­man heads to the Caribbean to un­wind.

“I came to Mustique for the first time in 1993 and it re­minded me of the sim­plic­ity of grow­ing up in the south of France,” she says, “It was the first time in my adult life that I took a proper hol­i­day and it was also where I met my part­ner in life [the film pro­ducer Stan­ley F. Buchthal] so it holds spe­cial mem­o­ries.”

Hoff­man vis­its the is­land sev­eral times a year with fam­ily and friends, and has ‘su­per-ded­i­cated’ staff – gar­den­ers, maids, but­lers – run­ning both vil­las per­ma­nently. “They take care of the houses in a way that makes them feel very lived in and wel­com­ing,” she adds.

The build­ing is cov­ered in look-at-me turquoise, tan­ger­ine and saf­fron tones. The un­du­lat­ing metal pan­els which cover the up­per part of the build­ing and form the roof were 3D printed and coated in blue paint, which has to be re­freshed reg­u­larly due to the hu­mid salt air. The cli­mate of the is­land is also why paint­ings are no­tice­ably ab­sent from the walls in­side. In­stead, the fur­nish­ings pro­vide peppy jolts of pat­tern and colour. There are sev­eral pieces from the Ital­ian com­pany Moroso, in­clud­ing a rain­bow-striped hang­ing chair and sim­i­larly uplift­ing de­signs by the Lon­don-based duo Doshi Le­vien.

“The colours of the Caribbean have al­ways been strong and we wanted to re­flect that,” ex­plains Hoff­man, “Here they just feel right. The sun makes them come alive.”

Vis­i­tors en­ter through the ba­nana or­chard, and to the left and right there are pavil­ions with sit­ting rooms that can be opened right up to the balmy air thanks to

re­tractable, hy­draulic walls. Down­stairs there are bed­rooms, more in­for­mal liv­ing ar­eas and a cov­ered din­ing cabaña with a high-spec out­door kitchen. At the back of the house is a glass-tiled wall with free-form curves, and the an­gu­lar ar­chi­tec­ture is soft­ened fur­ther by ter­rac­ing and trop­i­cal plant­ing – myr­iad palms, baobab, frangipani and night-flow­er­ing jas­mine – by the Bel­gian land­scape ar­chi­tect Bas Smets.

Hoff­man’s neigh­bours are a wealthy, starry pack, earn­ing the is­land a rep­u­ta­tion for ex­clu­siv­ity – Mick Jag­ger, Tommy Hil­figer and Sha­nia Twain are all res­i­dents – and the roll call of re­cent fa­mous vis­i­tors in­cludes Tom Ford and the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge.

Of course, the royal res­i­dent who first gave Mustique an air of jet-set glam­our was the late Princess Mar­garet, who would find that com­fort­ingly lit­tle has changed on the is­land. It is still a ‘no shoes, no news’ kind of place where souped-up golf bug­gies known as ‘mules’ are the pre­ferred mode of trans­port. ‘’Mustique has a cer­tain rep­u­ta­tion but ev­ery­day life is not about be­ing wealthy or flashy – it’s very easy go­ing,” says Hoff­man, “There’s also a real feel­ing of com­mu­nity life, which is very ap­peal­ing and you can dip in and out of the so­cial scene very eas­ily.”

The ‘scene’ re­volves around the art deco bar in the Great Room at the 17th-cen­tury Cot­ton House ho­tel, where the well-heeled gather to get well-oiled ev­ery Tues­day evening. It was dec­o­rated by the leg­endary the­atre de­signer Oliver Mes­sel, Lord Snow­don’s un­cle, who also de­signed Les Jolies Eaux, Princess Mar­garet’s Mustique home. Hoff­man's ex­tra­or­di­nary, colour­ful Caribbean home is al­ready just as iconic.

“Mustique has a cer­tain rep­u­ta­tion, but life here isn’t about be­ing flashy”

ABOVE: A rain­bow-hued Trop­i­calia hang­ing chair BE­LOW: A colour­ful guest bed­room OP­PO­SITE: The house has been built to ac­com­mo­date the to­pog­ra­phy of the coast­line – trees and a rocky out­crop add fo­cal points to the pool lounge

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