When it comes to home design, minimalism and clean lines may be all the rage these days, but even the most savvy designer would have to gawk at Le Moulin Jaune. Located 40 minutes outside of Paris, the home of famed performer Slava Polunin blends fairy tale and avant-garde art into something truly extraordinary.
The Rise of a Clown
Polunin was born and raised in Soviet Russia, where he discovered performance art and clowning at an early age. He rose to fame as one of the country's most rebellious artists. In Leningrad in 1982, the government had a stranglehold over the arts and cultural events. That didn't stop Polunin from organizing a parade of over 800 mime artists. As the story goes, he was able to get away with it because of a legal loophole, and because he could make the Soviet leader's wife laugh. Since then, he's been credited with bringing clowning out of the circus and onto the stage. He's performed for over 3 million people across 30 countries, notably in Slava's Snow Show.
For many artists, the boundaries between work and home life are blurred. But few literally transform their homes into active works of art. Polunin's outsized personality made it impossible to settle for a standard house. In a short documentary by the American Theatre Wing, he said, "You have a dream that you want to realize. You look for a place where you'll feel the harmony. If you don't have such a place, you create it."
Developed over 15 years, Le Moulin Jaune ("the yellow windmill") consists of a castle-like yellow mansion and surrounding park that are managed by Polunin, his family, and a group of friends. It features fantastical sights across five themed gardens full of plants, flowers, and whimsical installation art. The home features rotating and regular pieces, such as a bed that floats down the river. Special events and workshops also include performances from Slava's talented friends..
Visitors are welcome to see Le Moulin Jaune for themselves, though it is open to the public only a few times a year. A limited number of tickets are offered at only 10 Euros apiece. If you are lucky enough to get one, you can bet the trip will be an experience you'll remember forever.