The twenty-five Parisians featured in this book come from a wide range of backgrounds, but they are all united in their love of Paris—of its architecture, the harmony of its eighteenth-century façades, the elegance of its squares, in how much it means to them, how happy they are to come back after being away, and in how much they love and admire the city of light. For them, it is the only place to be, synonymous with the worlds of fashion and culture, where they find inexhaustible inspiration. They can take sustenance from its great museums and art galleries and can indulge their tastes and passions in its private galleries, antique stores, and flea markets—as the reader will see from their highly individual and distinctive living spaces, where past and present come together in collections of every variety, and where a wide range of sensibilities and ideas, whether classic or crazy, find expression. Some of these spaces are startling, none of them are dull. Many display an exhilarating freedom in their interpretation of a style or era, and in their happy marriages of disparate influences, such as furniture by Jean Prouvé with sculpture by Takis; a table by Ingo Maurer with a bowl by Jean Puiforçat; a chair by Claude Lalanne with a painting by Christian Bérard; a Venetian commode with a vase by Robert Zakanitch. Whether assembled with patience or brought together by serendipity, furniture and objects reflect each other with a quintessentially Parisian poise and elegance. Some reveal surprises that may appear bizarre, even disturbing: a life-size figure smothered by an inflated inner tire, or a human head concealed among waving grasses, or a mummy. Some names crop up again and again, others are less familiar, but all are united by the insatiable curiosity of their owners, whose historic pieces rub shoulders with the contemporary works in which Paris is so rich.
Rugged materials—steel, concrete, stone, bronze, and lava—create interiors with a rough-hewn, masculine edge, while color palettes of gray-and-black or brown-and-beige conjure up the masculine tones of tweeds and flannels. Strong lines and geometrical motifs lend strength and rigor to floors and fabrics; an oversized table, chair, or floor lamp adds an emphatic note, while a repurposed piece of factory furniture lends a severe, industrial edge to a contemporary home office. Some of these owners combine their home with their studio, living among their own designs, while others offer a reflection of their art galleries or design studios. A connoisseur of Arte Povera surrounds himself with plain, natural wood, while a fashion designer curates every precious detail with care. An artist seeks white walls and tranquility to help his work; a writer surrounds himself with piles of books; and a musician lives under the gaze of a beloved maestro.
The words and photographs contained here invite the reader to explore the homes of an intriguing group of men—including an inveterate traveler, an intellectual, an eccentric, a man of classical tastes, one of insatiable curiosity, and another who likes to shock—together offering an intimate portrait of the most influential designers, decorators, and tastemakers living in Paris today.
This extract is taken from The Parisians: Tastemakers at Home, by Catherine Synave with photography by Guillaume de Laubier (Flammarion, 2019). Buy a copy here.