Last year, in 2016, I was offered a pretty cool opportunity by my Sister and brother in law. The opportunity to go out the French alps and live there for almost 3 months. Why? To build a small, luxurious chalet. I obviously (without thinking of the enormous work load I was about to take on) jumped at the chance, and said yes!
But why the small chalet in the French Alps? What are they buying? The story is very sweet indeed. Ten years ago, my sister Sarah, Brother in-law Ben and lovely couple called Kyle and Nikita, all met in university in Portsmouth. They remained friends and have shared many holidays and good reunion party’s since then. In 2015, Kyle and Nikita ran a large chalet in Morzine (there is another long story connected to this beautiful French ski resort, but that might have to wait till another time) They both worked as chalet hosts for the winter season.
One day, Kyle and Nik stumbled across a…well…a snow covered shed. In the window was a for sale sign. Skip forward a year and the four of them officially owned it. The shed was in fact a Mazot, which is a French safe store built in the mountains to keep belongings safe from the frequent chalet fires that occurred in the mountains. They are of course mostly made of wood! This place was a time capsule to the olden days of the mountain life style. It needed some work. My Brother in law Ben is a property developer in Bournemouth and so quickly started putting some ideas together and the four of them discussed the potential for the place. After involving a local French Architect, they soon had a full design scheme to turn an old Mazot into a luxury 2 bed holiday retreat, perfect for a family ski holiday or friends who want to escape the city for a summer break of hiking, lake walks and the taste of local merlot.
They asked me to get involved as they wanted the whole project well documented. I also have a bit of a soft spot for building design as my father is an architect and enjoy decorating way too much and love getting involved in something different, who doesn’t. The first stage of the build was in May 2016 and it took us all 5 weeks to get the place structurally safe and the inside was ready for the local plumber and electrician to complete their work. The second trip was later in October and after many discussions on ‘where should this go’ and ‘what about doing it this way’ the final details were complete. The place was truly stunning. Hopefully the photos below will speak for themselves.
I was thrilled when I heard that they wanted me to design the logo for the Mazot. The name for which had now been decided. So what was the name? They decided to name it after the song that gave everyone involved with the trip a strong memory of working on it, as well as the long evenings spent chatting the project through. It was a song called Cucurucu by the singer songwriter Nick Mulvey. It is a beautiful, both melodically and lyrically, and suited the place perfectly. Cucurucu. Bird song. The sound of the mountains in the long summer evenings.
My thoughts were to keep it very simple. Simple but with that sense of tradition and what history the place had. I also knew immediately that it would involve some reference to a bird due the the name. I ended up with something that they were all very happy with and made me feel proud to have given this stunning place an official identity.
The last part of my involvement with the Mazot, was to compile all the photographs I had taken (it was many) and put a book together to tell the story through the people, the place and the project itself. After numerous edits, I had the book printed. The four of them collaborated to write an introduction to the book which is followed by three chapters of photographs, and concluded with a few pages of all the people that helped on the project. Both couples now own a copy as well as the Cucurucu itself where it waits to tell its story to guests, friends and family. It still gives me a little sense of pride and joy when I visit my sisters house and go through it.