Chances are you have not heard of Studio KO unless you keep a very close ear to the ground when it comes to architecture. Actually, you probably have seen their work without knowing who designed it, if say you ever had a drink at the Chiltern Firehouse, the impossibly posh Andre Balazs hotel in London’s Marylebone. And if you need to wash off the posh from your skin, you may want to walk a few blocks to the Aesop store in Marylebone High Street, also designed by Studio KO.
KO, by the way, stands for Karl Fournier and Olivier Marty, the French co-founders of the firm (they are also a couple). Their latest coup d’état is designing the Yves Saint-Laurent museum in Marrakech, which you actually might have heard of if you are a fashion person. The museum, with its red brick and overall desert color scheme in many ways epitomizes Studio KO, many of whose projects have been done in Morocco in color tones that seamlessly blend in with their surroundings.
The audience of Studio KO is about to expand now thanks to the new monograph on their work from Rizzoli. It’s a nice one-two punch of French interior design from the publisher, following a book on Joseph Dirand.
The oversized cloth-bound tome clocks in at 240 pages. Its 150 color photographs span only a handful of projects, all private residences, with the exception of the YSL museum. This seems characteristically modest of the duo (why not Chiltern Firehouse or Aesop?). This modesty also flows through the book’s introduction, in which Marty is quoted saying, “Carte blanche is the death of everything.”
The residences Studio KO has designed are unassumingly named “Villag G, Villa K” and so on. The villas are austere, rigorous, almost ascetic in their beauty. If brutalism can be rustic, that would be it. They favor stone over concrete, which I am beginning to welcome. Every interior seems to be lived in, despite being sparse. Few things over many, texture as ornament, earthy color palette, water – the kind of unfussy beauty that brings peace to one’s mind. I’ll take it.
All photos by Tom Delavan, courtesy of the publisher.