Remember how we fell in love with SCAD in Savannah, Georgia? How we figured out how to put the pieces in place so that all our creative dreams could have a greater chance of coming true…. well, I found out they had a campus in the south of France which is just a totally unfair to those of us NOT in school anymore, and wildly romantic and inspiring for these students who are or will be to nurture their creative talent in a place so famous for the arts (ok, THIS and THAT and ooooo, THIS)
Many students arrive on the Savannah College of Art & Design Lacoste campus and immediately start singing songs from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast… I mean, how can you not, it’s a medieval town with blue shutters on all the windows, lace curtains, flowers everywhere and whose residents number only in the hundreds. So, first question. How does an art school end up in a tiny village made of stone on top of a hill?
Bernard Pfriem, a Texan painter and sculptor, fell in love with Lacoste after he bought a home there, and founded Lacoste School of the Arts in 1970. After Pfriem’s death in 1996, the school lost its champion and began to fall into disrepair. Several colleges traded partnership with the school, but it was a chance encounter with one of SCAD’s historic preservationists that eventually led to SCAD taking control in 2002 and doing what SCAD does best… saving, renovating, and turning it into one of the greatest creative institutions.
Today, an intimate number of 80 selected students can study abroad at SCAD Lacoste in four different sessions of the year, though the classes work on a rotating schedule. When we came to visit earlier this summer, there were courses in fashion, screenwriting, photography, animation, documentary film, art history, and printmaking. Walking around the campus, which reaches from Cafe de Sade at the bottom of the hill to the famous Château de Lacoste at the top, it’s easy to see why anyone would want to study the arts here. Away from the noise and distractions of city life, you can focus in on your thoughts, dreams, talents all the while having the tools and top notch technology provided to you by SCAD.
Some may be surprised that people choose to study in a small medieval village, but for these students, there’s not much better than this provincial life of making memories and art as bright as the fields of sunflowers.
First let’s set the scene…(brace yourself for jealousy)
Maison Basse began as a one-room farmhouse built on top of 13th century Roman ruins in the valley between Lacoste and Bonnieux. If that’s not a beginning, I don’t know what is. Since then, it has lived many lives – as a silkworm farm, an inn, and a guesthouse and gambling space for the de Sade family. After SCAD had successfully saved a 13th century Roman wall, back to the whole champions of historic preservation thing, they ended up with a new project on their hands, that of Maison Basse took many years of work and perseverance to complete and now sits proudly in view down in the valley from any window up on the hill of Lacoste where the rest of the campus classrooms live.
Below you will see how it functions as student housing, classrooms, art studios, and a community shared living space taking this historic building from old farmhouse to the future of art…
Students can wait for car rides from the main campus to Maison Basse, but on nice days, most of them opt to take the ancient Roman road which winds through gorgeous forest as it travels from the farmhouse back up to the village…
Below~ looking back on Maison Basse in the valley from within the walls of Lacoste.
The fashion students were huddled over sketchbooks in the bright natural lit studio, working on their creations for Advanced Fashion Sketching. Taught the use of croquis – a quick, sketchy drawing – and body proportions for fashion drawing, the girls quickly infuse their images with their own personal style and vibe. Many of the images involved different mediums – some students using pens and pencils, others, watercolors or collage. By the end of the eight week course, the students will have a portfolio to expand upon in their continuing studies back at SCAD and ultimately their own fashion collection.