RISKY BUSI­NESS

With eclec­tic pieces and dar­ing colour choices, de­signer Sarah Lavoine brought a youth­ful in­sou­ciance to this clas­si­cal PARIS gar­den apart­ment.

VOGUE Living Australia - - Contents - By Ian Phillips Pho­tographed by Stephan Jul­liard Styled by Sarah de Beau­mont

With eclec­tic pieces and dar­ing colour choices, de­signer Sarah Lavoine brought a youth­ful in­sou­ciance to this clas­si­cal Paris gar­den apart­ment

On a ledge in the main bed­room of this apart­ment in Paris’s 16th ar­rondisse­ment is a se­ries of fash­ion sketches in black, white and flesh tones. They were drawn by the home’s owner, Alix de la Comble, who has a back­ground in cou­ture. In the early 1980s, de la Comble worked in the de­sign stu­dio at Chris­tian Dior un­der Marc Bo­han, and later went on to launch a short-lived swimwear col­lec­tion. In spite of her past, there was one thing she res­o­lutely wished to avoid: “I didn’t want a fash­ion­able in­te­rior.”

That didn’t pre­vent de la Comble hir­ing one of Paris’s most stylish de­sign­ers, Sarah Lavoine, whose work is char­ac­terised by stripes, geo­met­ric pat­terns and colour-block­ing. She even has a teal-like paint colour named after her — Bleu Sarah — in­spired by saris she saw en route between Delhi and Jaipur. “There’s al­ways some­thing youth­ful to ev­ery­thing she does,” says de la Comble. One of the apart­ment’s main draws was its pri­vate gar­den — a pre­cious rar­ity in the French cap­i­tal. “It gives you the feel­ing of be­ing in a house,” says de la Comble. “You for­get you’re in Paris and that there are peo­ple around you.” When she and her hus­band, Gilles, first spied it, it was in a rather un­pre­pos­sess­ing state. There was a “ghastly” large pond, which they con­cealed with ipé deck­ing, and a steep slope that de la Comble says made you feel “as if you were at the bot­tom of a hole”. It was re­mod­elled with the aid of land­scape de­signer Pierre-Alexan­dre Risser, who cre­ated a walk­way at the front to shield it from the street and in­te­grated as many ed­i­ble plants as pos­si­ble, in­clud­ing ap­ple, pear and med­lar trees, squashes, straw­ber­ries and black­cur­rants. “If ever there was a siege, I think we’d be able to sur­vive for some time,” de la Comble quips. The apart­ment it­self was not ex­actly at­trac­tive, ei­ther. Lavoine re­calls it as be­ing “old-fash­ioned and ba­nal, with lots of long cor­ri­dors”. Its lay­out was com­pletely re­con­fig­ured. The kitchen was brought to the front and an en­filade cre­ated along the gar­den façade. The big­gest change was to the ac­cess, which was com­pletely mod­ifed. Pre­vi­ously reached via the main door of the build­ing, it now fea­tures its own sep­a­rate en­trance off the gar­den. “They com­pletely rethought how to live in the space,” notes Lavoine. “It’s rare to have clients who are will­ing to take such a leap.”

De la Comble had very spe­cific re­quests for the in­te­rior. She par­tic­u­larly wanted to bring the greens of the gar­den in­side. A tone called Thé de Chine, from Lavoine’s col­lec­tion for French paint man­u­fac­turer Res­source, was used for the en­try hall and, for the kitchen cup­boards she re­quested a lac­quer to match the ver­dant tone of one of her vel­vet gloves. An­other ref­er­ence to the hor­ti­cul­tural world comes by way of canework used for draw­ers and doors in the kitchen and dress­ing room, and also for the bed’s head­board in the main bed­room. The ter­razzo floor­ing, mean­while, was in­spired by de la Comble’s child­hood in Morocco. “I lived in Casablanca, where it’s used al­most ev­ery­where,” she re­counts. “It’s ro­bust, feels mod­ern and comes in what­ever hue you want.” Many of the fur­nish­ings have been in de la Comble’s pos­ses­sion for quite some time. A paint­ing signed by the 18th-cen­tury artist François Le­moyne, best-known for the ceil­ing of the Sa­lon d’Her­cule at Ver­sailles, has be­longed to her fam­ily for some 200 years. The Venetian gilt-wood con­soles in the en­try hall were ac­quired at an an­tiques fair in the French town of Bourg-en-Bresse three decades ago. Other items, how­ever, are more con­tem­po­rary, such as the Vin­cent Darré rug in the study, which she bought at auc­tion with­out tak­ing the room’s mea­sure­ments in ad­vance (it fits al­most to the cen­time­tre). The chandelier above the din­ing ta­ble, mean­while, is by the Madrid-based de­signer Marta de la Rica, whose work she dis­cov­ered in a restau­rant in south­west France. “There’s a very eclec­tic spirit to the end re­sult,” says Lavoine, “and a few things that are slightly off-the-wall.” One of the most strik­ing is the huge ant sculp­ture in the sit­ting room cre­ated by de la Comble’s Mo­roc­can artist friend, Fathiya Tahiri. “It re­ally shakes things up,” Lavoine says. “It’s al­ways good to take a few risks.”

In the liv­ing room of a Paris apart­ment de­signed by Sarah Lavoine (from left), Jelly Pea sofa, Week End cof­fee ta­bles (cen­tre) and Vera Cruz yel­low ta­ble, all by In­dia Mah­davi; fam­ily heir­loom Louis XV chair; side ta­ble from Ali­son Board­man; can­dle­hold­ers by Jimmy De­la­tour from Ga­lerie Armel Soyer; boxes on yel­low ta­ble by Pierre Charpin for Her­mès Mai­son; lamps from Cap­pellini; vin­tage Ira­nian kilim rug; paint­ing (1727) by François Le­moyne; ant sculp­ture by Mo­roc­can artist Fathiya Tahiri. De­tails, last pages.

THIS PAGE in the gar­den de­signed by land­scape ar­chi­tect Pierre-Alexan­dre Risser, chairs from De­don; deck made from ipé wood. OP­PO­SITE PAGE de­signer Sarah Lavoine in the en­try hall, which is painted in Thé de Chine from her col­lec­tion for Res­source.

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