Commissioned by an art collector to redesign a 19th century Haussmannian apartment in Paris’ 10th arrondissement not far from Canal Saint-Martin, interior designer Rodolphe Parente artfully imbued the historic property with freshness and imagination through discrete yet unexpected architectural interventions and an eclectic melange of modernist, postmodern and contemporary elements. Parente drew inspiration from the owner’s characterful collection of contemporary paintings, photographs, sculptures and ceramics, highlighting the apartment’s classical heritage through contrasting textures, voluptuous forms and handcrafted details. It is a testament to the designer’s eye for colour, texture and detail, as well as his penchant for experimentation and reinvention, that the mix and match of furniture, objects and artworks that span the 20th century up to the present harmoniously come together as a timeless ensemble. The result is a space that feels effortlessly elegant, as if it has organically come together over the course of many decades.
In order to complement the property’s period details, most notably the decorative corniches, wall panelling and parquet flooring, all which have been meticulously restored or recreated where necessary, Parente selected a neutral, pale-pink, light-beige paint colour. The muted colour scheme infuses the living spaces, which have been opened up to amplify the connections between them, with a soothing ambience. It also transforms the apartment into a blank canvas upon which the designer experimented with textures, materials and colours.
Subtly punctuating the muted interiors are a series of small yet surprising gestures based on metallic finishes that add modern touches. In the vestibule, a thin band of gold-leaf accentuates the circular form of the recessed ceiling, in the dining room, a shimmering silvery mural by artist duo Redfield & Dattner takes over a gently curved wall, while next door, the stainless-steel kitchen units, including a mobile central island, are playfully juxtaposed with pastel pink lacquered cabinetry. Windows are fitted with interior shutters in mirror-polished stainless-steel instead of curtains; in the bedroom, a large silk silver headboard adds luminosity, as does shiny lacquer in the dressing room and polished corrugated metal panelling in one of the bathrooms.
The masterfully curated art collection further adds glistening touches as well as pops of colour as does Parente’s eclectic selection of furniture that includes many pieces from the designer’s own portfolio such as a red lacquered sofa and armchair set, a stained birch and leather coffee table and a purple floor lamp. In the dining room, a waxed stained-ash dining table and yellow lacquered metal pendant, both also by Parente, are paired with Swiss industrial designer Bruno Rey’s iconic Rey chair from 1971.
The latter are part of an eclectic selection of iconic 20th century pieces that Parente handpicked for the project that range from a steam-bent and lacquered beech armchair that Austrian designer Josef Hoffmann designed in 1905, to the moon-inspired sconce that Italian lighting master Gino Sarfatti designed in 1959, to Martin Szekely’s postmodern Py pedestal table from 1983.
Thrown into the mix are collectible furniture pieces by contemporary designers that share an interest in material experimentation. Case in point, Patricia Urquiola’s Bisel Console Table for Glas Italia, which is made from multi-layered and multi-chromatic glass, Axel Chay’s Septem stool, a sculptural assembly of seven mirror polished aluminium tubes, and Odd Matter’s organic shaped coffee table and shelving, the former made from EPS foam and the latter from cork granulate and crystalline gypsum. Despite such a diverse range in époques, styles, and materials, Parente’s thoughtful orchestration ensures that every room in the apartment is as intriguing and vibrant as it is serene and restrained.