Lalique: The name itself calls forth elegant images of artworks in glass, the lapidary beauty of Art Nouveau vases and perfume bottles in frosted glass and crystal. In honor of Lalique’s new 2021 collection, Gaïa, which pays homage to Mother Earth, Luxury Defined presents a showcase of magnificent homes where the use of glass—whether windows, walls, doors, or even staircases—only amplifies the architectural splendor. From a contemporary oceanfront estate in Martha’s Vineyard to a minimalist coastal villa in Saint-Tropez, these jewel-like homes display their breathtaking surroundings with immediacy and transparency, and with superb comfort and convenience. To live in one of these houses is to become ultimately connected between sky and earth, shore and sea, outdoors and in.
Minawetu in West Tisbury, Massachusetts
Minewetu, or “Island Home,” is one of the most breathtaking properties in New England. The newly built, 3.3-acre beachfront estate overlooking Vineyard Sound and the Elizabeth Islands on the North Shore of Martha’s Vineyard was designed in accordance with the 14 principles of biophilic design, which emphasize human adaptations to the natural world that have proven instrumental in advancing people’s health, fitness, and wellbeing. This design principle was inspired by biophilia, a term popularized by American biologist, naturalist, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward O. Wilson. In his eponymous 1984 book, Wilson argues that “our natural affinity for life—biophilia—is the very essence of our humanity and binds us to all other living species.” Minawetu is essentially a platform for a botanical garden, which grows on and around the house. At the entrance, enormous granite stepping-stones bridge two waterfalls cascading to a lower-level pond. Dramatic walls of glass connect the home’s social spaces and five private suites with the beauty of the outdoors. A glass circular staircase rises to the solar-panelled green roof with an ipe wood pool deck and native grass lawns. A weathered stone staircase provides easy access to a white sandy beach below.
The Circle House in La Baule Escoublac, Loire-Atlantique, France
The Circle House is a unique contemporary villa on nearly 2.5 acres of private parkland in La Baule-Escoublac, a scenic coastal resort town in France’s Loire-Atlantique region. This modernist dwelling constructed from concrete, metal, and glass is composed of three circular wings that enclose 12,917 square feet of light-filled living spaces with elegant interior design and beautiful finishes. A double-height entrance hall leads into an ultra-modern two-story reception room bathed in sunlight. Floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights frame the picture-perfect views of the lush gardens. All six bedrooms have a view of the grounds as does the glass atrium, the highlight of the home, with its swimming pool, bar, relaxation area, sauna, and steam room. Two offices, a cinema, and two garages with parking for eight vehicles are further amenities.
Ultramodern Waterfront Estate in Boca Raton, Florida
This ultramodern waterfront estate on 125 feet of Intracoastal Waterway in Boca Raton, Florida, was innovatively conceived by Rex Nichols Architects, with interiors by Lesly Maxwell and landscape by Greg Lombardi. The façade of steel and concrete is paired with airy glass curtain walls, exotic wood enhancements, and aluminum brise-soleil. The geometric forms and expansive walls of glass give it the impression of floating on the water while seamlessly integrating the outdoors with the indoors. At the entrance, a dramatic two-story cascading water wall flows into a reflective water basin. The glass front doors open to a first-floor living space surrounded by 24-foot-high glass walls. An elevator, serving all levels, has a glass enclosure. Also in glass is a floating, 12-foot-wide, see-through fireplace, which warms the great room and the adjacent office. A 1,000-bottle glass wine room separates the dining room and professional-grade gourmet kitchen. The adjacent clubroom features Italian leather seating, an 11 Ravens billiard table, a 100-inch flat screen television, and an elegant full-service bar. Oiled walnut wood tones, touchstone art, and accent pieces add warmth to the minimalist aesthetic. There are eight bedrooms, including four VIP guest suites and the sumptuous owners’ suite, with a morning bar, luxurious his-and-her spa baths, and boutique walk-in closets. Pocket sliding doors open to a private deck overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway and the rear gardens, with covered lanais, a fully equipped summer kitchen, and a waterside sun-shelf infinity-edge pool and spa with fire pit.
Contemporary Aerie in Austin, Texas
This newly built custom home by Ravel Architecture is in Austin’s West Lake Hills, six miles from downtown. The sleek, contemporary interiors have a boomerang-shaped configuration to work with the curvature of the hillside setting and maximize the 180-degree views of downtown Austin from every room. The inner, canyon side is clad in floor-to-ceiling glass to frame the views. The outer, street side of the house has high walls for privacy while still allowing for plenty of light. There are four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms. The heart of the home is a light-infused living/dining area that opens to a fabulous gourmet kitchen and out to a beautiful wood deck. The future owner has an option to expand the residence with a pool cabana or a ground level floor addition.
Contemporary Coastal Retreat in Ramatuelle, France
This stunning minimalist villa is just a minute’s walk from Pampelonne Beach and famous Le Club 55. This property was renovated and redesigned for luxurious contemporary living. The sleek interiors extend to more than 3,000 square feet across two levels. The centerpiece is a cavernous two-story lounge flowing into a bright and airy kitchen with breakfast area. Throughout are unique curved glass doors opening to a wooden deck surrounding an alluring L-shaped pool enhanced with opalescent mosaic tiles. An outdoor bar, dining area, and sun lounge add to the resort ambiance. Above is a mezzanine level with a wall of glass to capture the light and the views. There are five bedrooms, all privately situated, with uniquely shaped windows and skylights.
Sky Island Residence in Portland, Oregon
Sky Island Residence is an ultra-luxurious penthouse occupying the 31st floor of the John Ross Tower on Portland’s South Waterfront. The elegant, 4,865-square-foot home has an elliptical floor plan wrapped in floor to ceiling glass to maximize the 360-degree view, with vistas of city, mountain, and river from every room. The neutral palette is accented by richly textured materials and exquisite finishes imported from Milan. The layout is as well-suited to grand entertaining as it is for casual relaxation. At the entrance, a private elevator opens to a walnut-panelled hall, ideal for showcasing art, and flows into a glass-walled living room with a jaw-dropping view of the cityscape and Mount Hood. Glass doors lead out to the 360-degree wraparound terrace with a further 2,094 square feet of living space and a bird’s-eye view of the landscape. On the opposite side of the living room are the dining room, wine cellar, and kitchen, featuring a seven-burner Miele range framed by a wall of Cipollino marble. The home’s four en suite bedrooms, including the deluxe owner’s suite with its black marble bathroom, are all privately situated. A guest powder room and office are further highlights.
Resort Villa in Restelo, Lisbon, Portugal
This five-level villa in the prestigious Lisbon neighborhood of Restelo has a sunny south-facing position with a 180-degree vista of the Tagus River. The 7,535-square-foot home was redesigned by celebrated interior decorator Nini Andrade da Silva. The use of glass throughout creates a coherent flow between the indoor and outdoor spaces. Sliding glass doors open to several balconies, sundecks, and terraces, all fitted with glass guard rails to optimize the views. On the garden level, the living room, dining room, and kitchen open to a natural wood deck surrounding an illuminated pool and spa. Beyond is a lush lawn bordered by towering bamboo trees, guaranteeing total privacy. The first floor is appointed with an entrance hall, kitchen, office, and guest suite. It opens to a wooden deck with a glass balustrade. All the bedrooms are en suite and have direct access to a terrace, including the private fourth-floor primary suite with its own river-view balcony. The fifth level is the roof deck, which offers a spectacular vista of the Tagus River and the monument of Christ the King.