ALL CHANGE

The Paris apart­ment of art di­rec­tor Jean-Christophe Au­mas is a beau­ti­ful work in progress

House and Leisure (South Africa) - - Contents - TEXT AND PRO­DUC­TION IAN PHILLIPS PHOTOGRAPHS STEPHAN JUL­LIARD/TRI­POD AGENCY

Noth­ing ever stays in place for long in art di­rec­tor JeanChristophe Au­mas’ apart­ment. ‘ Things are never fixed,’ he says. ‘It’s al­ways a work in progress. That re­ally is my leit­mo­tif.’ More than any­thing, JeanChristophe sees his in­te­ri­ors as a ‘ lab­o­ra­tory’, a means of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. His ap­proach, he says, is in­trin­si­cally linked to his pro­fes­sion: ‘I can’t dis­as­so­ci­ate my work from my home.’

Jean-Christophe spe­cialises in or­gan­is­ing ephemeral events and spe­cial projects for lux­ury brands. Be­fore set­ting up his own firm, Sin­gu­lar, he headed up the vis­ual iden­tity depart­ment at Louis Vuit­ton un­der Marc Ja­cobs. To­day his clients in­clude the likes of Cé­line, Dior and Boucheron. Ask him about his most over-the-top in­stal­la­tions and he’ll men­tion the time he set a flock of sheep loose in the Prin­temps depart­ment store in Paris, and a project dur­ing which he filled a John Gal­liano shop with a moun­tain of shred­ded pa­per. And, quite of­ten, el­e­ments orig­i­nally con­ceived for his projects end up in his homes. A pink-painted wooden stand in the en­trance to his cur­rent apart­ment is a case in point: it was con­structed for a din­ner hosted by a Parisian fash­ion brand.

The flat in ques­tion is some­thing of a hid­den gem. Lo­cated in the heart of Pi­galle, it was in­hab­ited by a sor­cerer and sooth­sayer dur­ing the 19th cen­tury. Mea­sur­ing 120m2, it is ac­cessed to­day via a long cor­ri­dor, at the end of which is an or­nately sculpted door. Push that and you’ll dis­cover the hall­way con­tin­ues un­til you fi­nally reach JeanChristophe’s abode, some 20m from the street.

He says he was at­tracted by its unique na­ture. ‘There’s a con­trast be­tween lots of dif­fer­ent things, which gives the apart­ment its charm,’ he says. They in­clude typ­i­cal Parisian ar­chi­tec­tural at­tributes, such as mar­ble fire­places and ceil­ing mould­ings, as well as a sky­light and a strik­ing set of stained­glass win­dows whose bright colours are pro­jected in­wards on sunny days. ‘The flat be­comes a lit­tle cathe­dral,’ says Jean-Christophe.

An­other draw was the pa­tio, as well as the apart­ment’s over­all at­mos­phere of tran­quil­lity.

‘It’s a big con­tra­dic­tion to the neigh­bour­hood, which is very an­i­mated,’ he says. ‘Pi­galle has be­come one of the new hotspots for go­ing out.’

One of Jean-Christophe’s pri­mary con­cerns was to in­crease the amount of nat­u­ral light in the space. He added a new sky­light above the front door and in­stalled all-glass doors – for­merly solid wood – to ac­cess the ter­race. He was also keen to blur the bound­ary be­tween the in­side and out­side, and did so by in­stalling an abun­dance of plants. ‘I wanted to cre­ate a kind of mini-jun­gle,’ he says. ‘I like a slightly hap­haz­ard, un­tidy spirit.’

Among Jean-Christophe’s most ad­mirable tal­ents is an as­tute and orig­i­nal way of us­ing colour. He painted the open­ing be­tween the en­trance hall and sit­ting room three dif­fer­ent hues, and chose cerulean for a ledge above the bed. The blue of the din­ing room walls is so pale, how­ever, that you ini­tially imag­ine it to be white.

The in­spi­ra­tion for the rest of the decor was di­verse. Both the kitchen and bath­room are rem­i­nis­cent of a tra­di­tional Greek house. ‘The Mediter­ranean in­flu­ence comes from the fact that I’m from the south of France,’ says Jean-Christophe, who was born in Aix-en-Provence. Through­out, the form of the stained-glass win­dows gave rise to the in­cor­po­ra­tion of nu­mer­ous arches and curved shapes.

Jean- Christophe blurred the bound­ary be­tween the in­side and out­side by in­stalling an abun­dance of plants: ‘I wanted to cre­ate a kind of mini-jun­gle. I like a slightly hap­haz­ard, un­tidy spirit.’

Very few of the fur­nish­ings were brought here from his pre­vi­ous home. Ex­cep­tions in­clude the 1970s leather and brass din­ing chairs, ac­quired at a Brus­sels flea mar­ket, and the Vin­cenzo De Cotiis sofa in the sit­ting room, which is one of his favourite pos­ses­sions.

An­other of Jean-Christophe’s pas­sions is ceram­ics. One of his pieces, from Dan­ish pot­ter Fred­erik Nys­trup Larsen’s Not a Sports Club se­ries, has a rather naïve na­ture that he par­tic­u­larly likes. De­lib­er­ate im­per­fec­tions are ev­i­dent else­where, too. Art­works are propped non­cha­lantly against the walls or on the floor, and the blue mir­ror above the fire­place in the liv­ing room looks as if it has been cut out badly. Its ir­reg­u­lar edges are, how­ever, in­ten­tional. Jean-Christophe also painted only part of the kitchen ceil­ing, but is so sat­is­fied with the way it looks that he’s plan­ning to leave it in­com­plete. Still, con­sid­er­ing his love of con­stant change, you’re never quite sure. sin­gu­lar-paris.com

De­lib­er­ate im­per­fec­tions are ev­i­dent else­where, too. Art­works are propped non­cha­lantly against the walls or on the f loor, and the blue mir­ror above the fire­place in the liv­ing room looks as if it has been cut out badly. Its ir­reg­u­lar edges are, how­ever, in­ten­tional.

T HIS PAGE, F ROM TOPColour-co­or­di­nated books and knick-knacks are housed in a ply­wood book­shelf, in front of which, on the left, is a chair by War­ren Plat­ner. The stool on the right was bought in Cape Town; ad­ja­cent to the mas­ter bed­room is the din­ing room, which is bathed in light thanks to ex­quis­ite stained­glass win­dows orig­i­nal to the apart­ment, re­port­edly in­hab­ited by a sooth­sayer in the 19th cen­tury. The bright red rug from Bleu de Fes is a cheer­ful de­par­ture from the pre­dom­i­nant blues and greens.

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