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Art Deco festival in Perpignan

Art Deco festival in Perpignan

Art Deco in Perpignan: gems galore!

It is not until he visited Miami that Philippe Latger realised that Perpignan, his hometown, was a treasure vault.

While gazing at the Art Deco houses and buildings typical of South Beach, he noticed a similarity with the villas he used to stroll by as a boy. Houses and buildings with elegantly designed façades, simplified geometric shapes, round corners, portholes, balconies in the Streamline Moderne style inspired by cruise ships, bow-windows, catwalks and pergolas. Houses made of concrete, bricks and ironwork. Houses with soft, pastel colours: salmon-pink, baby-blue, pale grey, lime-green…

Bringing Perpignan into the spotlight

Philippe Latger, described by the weekly magazine L’Express as a “determined forty year-old”, is a former newspaper and web journalist. After writing songs and books, and travelling around the world, he is now running a blog which aims to explain to the people of Perpignan that they are sitting on a gold mine: “People in Perpignan need to be aware of the cultural treasure they possess, of their architectural heritage.Perpignan is a gothic, royal city. But it is also Art Deco. Les Platanes, le Vernet, Saint Martin, Las Cobas, etc., and even the city centre”. He has made an inventory of all the Art Deco achievements of Perpignan, which represent over 1,000 villas and nearly 150 buildings. “If Miami made Art Deco into a major aspect of its self-promotion on the international scene, why not do the same in Perpignan?”.

Philippe Latger has created the Perpignan Art Deco association (PAD), opened a blog with a view to publishing a glossy magazine and recorded videos with background music from the 1920s and 1930s, that bring together the buildings and houses that emerged as the old fortifications of the city gradually disappeared. One of the aims of his non-profit association is to save this heritage and obtain subsidies to renovate and insulate, like Françoise Chalade did with his Maison Rouge on rue Rabelais, the former workshop of painter Louis Bausil. Perpignan Art Deco has joined the International Coalition of Art Deco Societies and established connections with its Paris and Miami-based counterparts. In September 2014, PAD invited Robin Grow, the president of the association of Melbourne, Australia, (who wrote a long article in praise of the Catalan city in his luxury review) to Perpignan. PAD participated in the international congress about Art Deco that was held in Shanghai in November 2015 during the World Congress of Art Deco.

A festival in Perpignan in June

Philippe Latger: “What do we do when we realise that we are sitting on a gold mine? We Exploit it!” (Photo © Le Journal Catalan).

With his association PAD, Philippe Latger wants his city to be talked about by emphasising the regional characteristics of Art Deco in the Roussillon as well as the commercial success and industrial heritage of this region. Perpignan also boasts a great beach known as Canet, which offers more Art Deco treasures. Le Journal Catalan also mentions two local stars who epitomise this period: Aristide Maillol and Charles Trenet. The latest of Philippe Latger’s numerous projects was to organise, with partners such as the Tourist Office of Perpignan, the Mediterranean centre of literature – in French, Centre Méditerranéen de Littérature – Jazzcotech, Les Vieilles Soupapes Catalanes, the Centro Espagnol of Perpignan, the Institut du Grenat, etc.) the first Art Deco Festival in Perpignan, which took place from the 19th to the 21st of June 2015 all across the city.

The Journal Catalan described in detail the events and locations of this promising festival.