Commissioned by an art collector to renovate a Haussmannian apartment on Avenue Montaigne in the heart of Paris, Samantha Hauvette and Lucas Madani, the Interior design duo behind Paris-based Hauvette & Madani, had the rare opportunity to re-design the historic property from scratch. Previously bedecked in marble and gilding in line with the previous owner’s flashy, 1980s-inflected taste, the designers were given carte blanche to restore the apartment’s original Haussmannian aura, the only requirement being plenty of blank wall space with which to showcase the new owner’s flamboyant art collection. While most designers would have applied a muted aesthetic for the purposes of creating a neutral backdrop, Hauvette and Madani have in fact done exactly the opposite, combining period and Art Deco details with an eclectic furniture collection comprised of unconventional pieces from different eras showcasing various styles. In what is ultimately a testament to the design duo’s keen eye for composition and curatorial acumen, everything has been harmoniously combined resulting in a timeless ensemble of artistic and artisanal charm.
In most Haussmannian apartment renovations, the brief usually includes restoring aged mouldings and cornices; for this project however, Hauvette and Madani were required to design them from scratch, a task which entailed meticulous research in order to source the motifs and decorations that matched not just the building’s history but also the owner’s flamboyant personality. Along with new chevron parquet flooring, the ornamental ceiling and overdoor stuccowork channels the apartment’s original character whilst leaving the walls intact for displaying artwork.
Such period details also function as a connective tissue tying together the diverse artwork and furniture collection, as does the use of straw marquetry, which the designers have artfully applied throughout the property, starting with the straw marquetry-clad circular entrance vestibule and continuing with various furnishings, most notably a series of furniture pieces by acclaimed French scenographer and designer Richard Peduzzi. Peduzzi’s designs, which have been custom-made for the project, include a pair of sofas and coffee table whose sinuous lines reflect the living room’s oval shape, and a dining table with matching chairs in the adjoining dining room, the latter boldly paired with an orange-tinted polycarbonate pendant lamp by Cuban artist Jorge Pardo.
Peduzzi’s Art Deco-inspired furniture is mixed with iconic pieces by acclaimed modernist designers Jean-Michel Franck and Jean Prouvé, vintage finds like the “Garden Egg” armchair by Peter Ghyczy in a space-age yellow, and contemporary designs such as the bronze and ceramic “Starburst” coffee table by Chahan Design and Antoinette Faragallah.
The idiosyncratic furniture collection is matched by the owner’s eclectic artworks which range from 20th century trailblazers like Karl Hagenauer, a leading member of the Vienna Secession, and Alberto Biasi, the Kinetic Art pioneer and founder of the groundbreaking Gruppo N during the 1960s, through to renowned modern artists including German Imi Knoebel and Austrian artist Franz West, and the likes of a younger generation of contemporary artists including Spanish Saelia Aparicio and British-Japanese Simon Fujiwara. Diverse in medium and concept, the artworks nevertheless share a sense of eccentricity, case in point Austrian sculptor Erwin Wurm's sculpture which takes the form of a turquoise-painted blob-like shape suspended from the living room ceiling.
Bridging the art and furniture collections are several pieces that blur the line between art and design such as the ceramic mural by New York-based artist Sarah Crowner in the dining room, and the sculptural bar counter by artist and designer Hervé van der Straeten in the kitchen-cum-lounge next door. A remarkable piece of craftsmanship – it’s no accident that Van der Straeten’s cabinet-making workshop has been recognised by the French State for its exceptional know-how – the counter’s sinuous contours are subtly picked up by the curvaceous sofa by mid-century-modern American designer Vladimir Kagan and the pill-like glass pendant lamps by Jeremy Maxwell Wintrembert’s Paris atelier. In the same space, the bubble-gum pink kitchen cabinetry, pistachio green stove, and matching decorative wall tiling add exuberant pops of colour.
Striking a captivating balance between restrained elegance and whimsical flair, suffice it to say that Samantha Hauvette and Lucas Madani have triumphed in creating what can only be described as a truly characterful apartment.