William, can you tell us about your background and what made you want to become an architect?
I was born in Paris and grew up there, and where I also studied architecture. A good number of my family members work in property and the building industry and, when I was very young, I had the opportunity to visit buildings and apartments as they were being built. I had my own ideas of what I wanted to do with these places, and my imagination led me to make a career out of it.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just handed over Déviant, the counter at the Vivant restaurant (on Rue des Petites Écuries in the 10th arrondissement) and I’m getting ready to hand over an apartment that occupies the top floor of a 19th century mansion house in Neuilly-sur-Seine.
In your projects, you break down the barriers between architecture and interior design. Can you explain the reasoning to us?
I simply approach all of my projects from an architectural perspective: looking for space, light, and the choice of materials. The scale and the challenges are different, but the diversity of the projects is what makes this job so exciting: from creating a restaurant to restoring a house to building an entire apartment block. I love the idea of designing highly varied projects, including a museum one day – why not?
Do you have a particular style or, indeed, are there any hallmarks of your work?
An architectural project is a process, a series of steps. Understanding the location, its history, and its context. You also need to understand the client’s goals, lifestyle, and personalty, to provide a solution that makes sense. Afterwards, I take a fairly formal, architectural approach and I try to create spaces that are light, minimalist, and intuitive. Timeless projects.
Where do you get your inspiration from, in terms of architectural periods or role models?
I’m interested in everything – from antique or classical architecture, through to modern and contemporary architecture. What makes us so lucky today is that we have the ability to feed on all of that culture. The great modern architects, such as Le Corbusier, are still reference points and – among the more contemporary names – I’m fascinated by projects by David Chipperfield, John Pawson and Vincent Van Duysen. There is a great deal of poetry in their work, and in its apparent simplicity in particular.
In terms of design, do you have a favourite era, designer, or item?
As with the architects, the list goes on! What I like in an item of furniture or an object is its honesty. The way that it conveys an emotion while remaining practical and comfortable. I’m an outright fan of design from the 40s to the 70s. In contemporary design, I like the work of Martin Szekely a great deal, who has taken radicalism even further. I also like furniture designed by Joseph Dirand, particularly his table, with a base that resembles Alva Aalto’s vase.
How long have you lived here? Who’s in charge of decorating your home?
We’ve lived here for four years now. I did the design work for the project, and did the layout of the spaces, but we managed the site and selected everything together. The materials, the furniture, the lihgting. The apartment remained empty for a long time, because we preferred to buy very little at a time, accumulating a selection of good quality items over time.
What are you most proud of?
From the first visit, we fell in love with the space and light in the apartment. Otherwise, if you mean a piece of furniture, I’d choose our dining room chairs, which we found on the Leboncoin website. They were in an atrocious state and we had them completely reupholstered. They are Pamplonas, designed by Augusto Savini, and date from the 1960s.
Are there any items that you dream of?
They aren’t exactly ornaments, but if we’re dreaming, perhaps a painting by Rothko or Lee Ufan. A bit more realistically, a pair of Pacha lounge chairs by Pierre Paulin, or Brazilian furniture by Tenreiro or Zalszupin.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
Photography and Text: Eve Campestrini – Translation: TextMaster @thesocialitefamily