Gabriel and Ann Barbier-Muller's Spectacular Penthouse

As many of my regular blog readers know, I worked for developer Gabriel Barbier-Muller when I was first out of SMU,  running his international magazine and books newsstand in the lobby of one of his first buildings at 1530 Main. I've stayed in touch with him during the years, and he was gracious enough to let me photograph his and wife Ann's penthouse apartment in Azure, his latest development. 

This is the view to the left as you exit the elevator on the 27th floor. Not many people realize that the Dallas Barbier-Mullers help shepherd one of the most significant collections of primitive art anywhere in the world. 

As you come off the elevator, this is the view to the right. The Barbier-Muellers own the entire 27th floor.

These primitive bone inlay doors are simply spectacular.

The collection inside their downtown penthouse is only a smidgeon of what they actually own. The Barbier-Mueller museum in Geneva holds one of the most comprehensive collections of Oceanic, African, Asian artifacts in the world. 

Jessica Beasley is the curator of art at Barbier-Mueller's company, Harwood International. She provided me with some of the information for what's in their penthouse:

"There are 11 fine Japanese helmets from the Kamakura, Momoyama, and Edo  periods.  The oldest dating from around 1185 A.D.  They are formed in a variety  of shapes and styles." (Many of them are displayed in the kitchen, as seen in the photo above). 

"One represents a stylized fish and one has the Big Dipper  constellation painted on it.  Other helmets are in the forms of a hawk’s talon, a  bamboo stalk, and another is in the form of an axe head.  They display the great   variety and imagination that was incorporated into samurai armor."

They also own pieces from Egypt, such as this sarcophagus located in the apartment's entry hall.

Writes Beasley: "This is an elaborately painted ancient Egyptian sarcophagus dating between 340 and 330 B.C.  This was the period when Egypt was part of Alexander the Great’s empire.  The wooden sarcophagus is in the form of a mummy and would have served as the innermost coffin for the body.  The name ‘Pannou’ is painted on the sarcophagus and was probably the name of the person it belonged to.  The sarcophagus is decorated with painted hieroglyphics and symbols of the Egyptian gods." 

A trio of tiny African chairs in the guest bedroom

Not sure what this is, but it looks pretty cool next to the high tech equipment in the kitchen, doesn't it?

Above, a pair of Samurai sleeves "(kote) with silver cloud design and a chest  armor  (do) with a deity depicted on the front," below:   

"This is an elaborate 18th century suit of Japanese armor bearing the crest of the important Matsudaira family," writes Beasley.  "The helmet is made of silver-lacquered iron and is constructed of 26 plates.  It has a half-mask (menpô) with a hair moustache.  This  suit is intricately made and has fine metalwork fittings in the form of  chrysanthemums." 

Another set of Edo period Japanese armor.

and a fabulous half helmet.

Transparency rules: A glass table with Philippe Starck's Louis Ghost chairs are the only way to go in a sky-high apartment dominated by priceless artifacts. 

This Samurai helmet looks like modern art.

Rosewood and leather Barcelona chairs are classics to pair with primitive art.

Chinese wedding tiara. 

Can you imagine waking up to this, or going to sleep at night with this view? 

I love this whimsical bedside table with its classic Tizio lamp.

This looks like fun.

The linens are charmingly embroidered in Spanish with "buenas noches mi amor."

Nota Bene:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has mounted a show of Barbier-Mueller artifacts borrowed from their Geneva museum. It runs through September 27.