Chouquettes – Episode 21: Hôtel Habituel
Hôtel Habituel is the younger brother of Hôtel du Temps and has already become part of the brightly-lit landscape around the Gare du...
First, there is this cinematographic place. Then, the furniture, almost monomaniac. In Alexandre Jolivet’s and Ulrikk Dufossé’s place, Pierre Chapo is the king. In this apartment, seen in the movie Tomboy, by Céline Sciamma, his works made of solid elm and oak wood take center stage, just like holy relics. They are captivating and warm, and their important presence guides the scenography the young couple chose, meant to enhance the 60’s legacy of this housing. It’s original, just like the door handles and the wood of the sliding doors. These two men who always follow through to their ideas desired it, and it gives a unqualifiable character to the apartment. To pay tribute to all these details, they often change the arrangement. The collectors become talent scouts, from the ceramicist to the painter and the sculptor. The creations are everywhere on their shelves. Today, they show us an astonishing environment in an interview as rich is anecdotes as their interior is rich of prestigious pieces of art.
Alexandre, Ulrikk, what do you do for a living?
I am the founder of Strict Maximum. I offer all sorts of things that I have fallen in love with as we mop around at garage sales and flea markets. I offer items that I think are cool and that I hope will be cool on shelves other than ours.
I have two hats. I manage a logistic company. This business is linked to the work of Alexandre, since he needs to send all these objects in the world. Ulrikk is the name I use for my scupltures, represented by the gallery Lost City Arts in New York.
For how long have you been living in this apartment?
It has been almost 4 years. It’s our first purchase and the first time we stay that long in one place. Time flies, it must mean we feel good here…
Yes, actually it’s a sweet feeling to be as happy to go on holidays as coming back home. We always come back to our apartment with a lot of pleasure.
By the way, when we moved in, we felt like in holidays! Undoubtedly because of the building itself, which reminded rental properties were I spent time when I was younger. But also the great balcony, the loggia or “summer kitchen” and the greenery around.
How did you make your choice?
We had been looking an apartment to buy for some time when I found this one. The anecdote around this choice is that we had already seen this apartment in the movie Tomboy, by Céline Sciamma. We had loved the movie as much as the apartment in which the heroine evolves. One day, I recognized the fences of the balcony on a real estate ad! So I rushed to visit the apartment and BINGO: it was this apartment in question! We knew the movie had been filmed in Île-de-France and, luckily, it happened to be in the area we wanted to live in. Then we became obsessed and it became unthinkable to live elsewhere.
Everything was there. The omnipresent wood brings a lot of character to the place, and we above all wanted great openings to the outside. A lot of details convinced us, such as the integrated little pieces of furniture, sliding doors, airer-cupboards, and period handles… We immediately saw design options. It was a new adventure starting. We had the furniture and the objects, and we were about to have the perfect setting, from the same period.
A lot of details convinced us, such as the integrated little pieces of furniture, sliding doors, airer-cupboards… We immediately saw design options.
You always follow through to your ideas. How would you define your style in terms of decoration?
It is something we perfectly claim. I don’t know if I could name our style, and I even think it is not one and only style. What had always mattered the most is, first of all, the atmosphere. The coherence of the whole and the way the furniture and objects are going to work together. Sometimes, we get rid of pieces we love because they don’t fit with the rest. It seems to be a very scientist approach but it’s the way we feel things. I’m aware I’m a bit more radical than Alexandre… The wrong piece of furniture in the wrong place can undermine me for several days!
What do you like in the work of Pierre Chapo?
I discovered Pierre Chapo while doing researches about Charlotte Perriand, since their two names are often linked (even if they never worked together). But I don’t remember having been moved deeply by his work straightaway. I think that it’s aesthetics we all need to tame. Sometimes it takes time to like great things! His modernity is very subtle, nothing is obvious. The more you look at his work, the more you like it. I particularly the Chapo before the 70’s. Even if we have a soft spot for his vintage pieces, the work of his son Fidel – who took over the production a few years ago – is as remarkable. Chapo, it’s above all furniture designed for regular people, but which equal the work of great master from the XXIth century. The relation Chapo had with his raw materials is also very important for me, and I think this is what differentiates him. He loved, cosseted and above all – and it’s very important – practiced wood. Chapo said “I give free rein to my wood”. He was the protagonist of creation and production.
He knows what he’s talking about, am I right?
How did you conceive the spirit of your apartment?
Its great wood sliding doors reminded us of an hotel’s suite. So we had to have carpeting in order to create a cosy atmosphere. For us, the great period was the Galerie Steph Simon in Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 60’s, where Charlotte Perriand’s works were just next to the Akari lamps by Isamu Noguchi, the Roll vases by Georges Jouve and the stoneware objects by Jeanne and Norbert Pierlot. But also the Chapo gallery, where stoneware by Robert Deblander decorated Pierre Chapo’s creations. The spirit of these places is an undeniable source of inspiration.
What is your favourite piece of furniture?
I know Ulrikk is going to talk about Pierre Chapo’s bookcase so I leave it to him! So I’d say I prefer our bed by Alain Tavès made by Sentou. We have always been looking for the perfect bed, at one sober, functional (it can transform into a Daybed), big and all the more steady and silent!
The Tavès bed could have been a Chapo bed but unfortunately these ones are too narrow! And indeed, my favourite piece of furniture is Chapo’s B17 bookcase. I think my heart stopped when I saw it in a little room, where it has been waiting for me, patiently, for so many years. It was not possible to leave without it… I immediately made its 230 cm enter in our Beetle. It is the medium model but I’m desperate: We are going to find the big one someday. And then we will only need the small one!
What is missing at your place?
The next temptation will tell! It will probably be something useless but very very beautiful.
You shouldn’t ask such a question: I will try to find an answer and find one!
How do you combine nice deco and family life?
We are not fussy people. The most important: no hysteria! My son learned alone to be careful and to live in an interior where furniture and objects are important and have a history. Actually he is now very sensitive to this.
What was your education in terms of decoration/this style of decoration?
My grandmother and my parents are bargain-hunters. It’s really a something we have always done in our family. I have a lot of childhood memories in yard sales. We woke up very early, our shoes were wet, we used to eat French fried… You understand why I can’t lie in on Sundays? I need my French fried! But apart from this, my family is not attracted by the style we love. I mean that they are not the ones who initiated me. Ulrikk and I developed our interests together with time.
I grew up in the very opposite of what I know today. No decoration, no special atmosphere, no style. Just pieces of furniture. It may have provoked my interest for interiors. As Alexandre says, we evolved together towards what we love today, and this is also the fruit of a perfect harmony between us. One of us is very fond of objects and the other passionate about furniture.
Where do you go when you look for pieces? Do you have a couple of places to recommend us?
For the furniture, I like the first prices. I have trouble paying high prices. What I can find for a reasonable price and with patience and pugnacity makes me happy. Every piece of furniture we have come the famous sites of classified ads from private individuals. Sometimes, when going to take a coffee table, we discover other marvels there. But it’s also frustrating to miss things because, of course, we are not always successful… But what is not for us today will probably for tomorrow!
We also wake up very early on Sundays for the yard sales… But when we stroll in the flea market of Saint-Ouen, we always stop Marché Paul Bert in the Galerie Gendras-Régnier, for its very specialised selection of stoneware objects and contemporary ceramics. They sell exceptional pieces, by greats ceramists such as Robert Deblander, Elisabeth Joulia and Albert Valler. I also like the useful ceramics Nelly Bonnan makes and the sculptures of her husband Georges Yassef. But for them, you need to go on their Instagram account or to go in the Drôme provençale! We did it this summer, and it was a beautiful encounter and beautiful ceramics as memories.
What is the unforgivable lack of taste?
Isn’t thinking that you have taste a lack of taste in itself? Take your pens, you have three hours to answer.
What is the piece of your craziest dreams?
A great picture by Pierre Soulages. I would not leave my apartment, I would spend my time looking at it and getting lost in his outrenoir. Luckily, it will never happen so I’ll always gallivant!
Having to choose now is a torture, especially just one piece: we dream every night! I would spontaneously say the cow skin armchair Charlotte Perriand designed in 1955 according to another model from 1935. I love it. It is modern, rational and it emits something really authentic.
Is there an iconic designer who seduced you, apart from Pierre Chapo?
Isamu Noguchi. His Akari lamps take over our apartment little by little. He did not invent the Japanese lanterns, but all the sculptural forms he created are magic. We feel like having fireflies. It is tough to integrate other lamps when you tried Noguchi’s ones.
Harry Bertoia. Since Alexandre and I live together, we have always had Bertoia chairs in our apartments. I even believe I owe him my interest for what we call design. Today, Chapo’s wood has invaded the inside, and the Bertoia bench and chair furnish the outside. I consider its seats are sculptures. Your look does not stop on it; it extends through the structure in itseld and I think it’s very poetic. Even if I have to admit it’s a bit crazy, I feel sympathy for these chair and every time I see one of them, it moves me a little.
Is there a restaurant you would recommend us, in Paris or elsewhere?
Undoubtedly, Le Clos des Roses in the Var. The restaurant is in the heart of a wonderful vineyard and serves a refined cooking, with Mediterranean flavours. Most of the produces come from the vegetable garden in the vineyard. It’s one of our meeting place every summer!
Credits : Constance Gennari @thesocialitefamily
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