There’s something coyly sublime about this Parisian pied-à-terre that had us at hello. Given carte blanche by the owner, French interior and furniture designer Emmanuelle Simon approached the renovation of the 85-square-metre Haussmannian apartment in St. Germain as if composing a painting. Rather than using colour though, she relied instead on a tactile vocabulary of natural textures and a visual language of abstract forms, manifested by an eclectic collection of antique, vintage and contemporary furniture and artworks, including numerous pieces she designed herself. The result is a series of immaculately curated, resolutely modernist interiors that reflect the French designer’s heightened sense of refinement, keen eye for detail, and passion for craftsmanship.
Opting for a light-touch renovation, Simon has complemented the apartment’s original parquet floor and decorative ceiling moldings with a subdued colour palette of white, cream and earthy tones such as sand, limestone and terracotta. What the interiors lack in colour, they more than make up in texture, courtesy of repertory of natural materials such as wood, rattan, lava stone and ceramic, while the muted colour scheme allows the eclectic collection of art and design to take centre stage.
The project includes several bespoke furniture pieces that Simon has designed, such as the round coffee table in the living room. Made from lava stone and Raku – a type of Japanese pottery whose firing process produces great variety of colours and surface effects – the coffee table functions as a focal point around which everything else unfolds. Gently “hugging” Simon’s table, a curved sofa in Pierre Frey mohair fabric by Pierre Augustin Rose, a collaborative brand founded by antique dealers Pierre Bénard and Augustin Deleuze, and designer Nina Rose, is juxtaposed with the hexagonal travertine and a series of mid-century pieces like a rattan chair by Dutch designer Dirk Van Sliedregt and a pine sideboard by Swedish designer Goran Malmvall, both from the 1950s.
Above the sofa, a contemporary monochrome painting by multidisciplinary artist, photographer and composer Damien de Medeiros a.k.a. Hermentaire (whose watercolour and acrylic paintings can be found throughout the apartment) is paired with a pair of rattan and rice paper light sconces designed by Ingo Maurer in the 1970s in the shape of traditional Japanese fans. Overseeing the space, a monumental stoneware sculpture by the late French ceramist Michel Lanos echoes the painting’s whimsical vibe.
In the adjacent dining room, a bespoke table in blackened solid Assamela wood designed by Simon is paired with 1950s dining chairs in velvet upholstery by French designer Pierre Paulin, their rounded forms matching the organic shape of the table. A bespoke bookcase in iron, wood and Raku, also by Simon, adds additional black accents as do the black ink drawings by painter Jacques Neslé. The bookcase accommodates a collection of ceramic artefacts that include sculptures of Quentin Marais, whose playful work tiptoes between the figurative and the abstract in homage to childhood’s uninhibited creativity.
Marais’ work forms part of a rich collection of ceramic artifacts and artworks that Simon has amassed for the project. From the glazed wall sculpture designed by ceramist Pierre Digan in the 1970s that decorates the dining room, to the architectural table lights by Frédéric Bourdiec and sculptural table lamp by ceramist duo Les Dalo in the living room, to the illuminated bedside tables made from earthenware by Guy Bareff in the bedroom, to numerous decorative bowls and vases, the apartment is full of ceramic wonders.
In the master bedroom, Simon has designed the oak and thin rattan bedhead, which she has harmoniously complemented by a handmade rug in bamboo silk and hemp by Codimat, and a vintage rattan and rice paper light pendant by Ingo Maurer. Raku and brass light sconces also by Simon add polished accents while a painting by Hermentaire imbues the room with a dreamlike ambience. A second bedroom, kitchen and wine cellar round up the renovated apartment, further attesting to Simon’s passion for meticulously curated spaces.