Sandra Benhamou, <br> Mia 18 and Nathaniel 12 years old
Famille - Paris

A Joyfully and Instinctively Decorated Family Apartment.

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Sandra Benhamou,
Mia 18 and Nathaniel 12 years old

In this district just a stone’s throw from the Assemblée Nationale, the size of this family apartment, at 330m², seems incredibly extravagant. Its owner, the interior designer Sandra Benhamou, soon puts us straight in that respect by explaining that before she moved in, the premises were in fact old and abandoned. That really means something in Paris, where nearly 17% of homes are empty. To restore dignity – and above all, life – to these amazing spaces, this Parisian lady wanted to break free from the Haussmann character of the place. She did so by breaking the rules instinctively and freely, and by affording the greatest attention to details. With her Italian roots, fascinated by the prolific works of certain masters of design such as Carlo Scarpa or Gio Ponti, Sandra mixes, matches and moves items around. Far from “decoratively correct“. Staying close to her own tastes. Always true to herself; a faithfulness that enables her to unearth wonderful things in the galleries, sale rooms and flea markets that she has enjoyed visiting for years. The result is impressive and at the same time personal. Well rooted in the past but also amazingly modern. From contemporary art to 1970s treasures, from a herringbone parquet to a Carrare marble terrazzo floor. That has its own story to tell.

Sandra Benhamou, <br> Mia 18 and Nathaniel 12 years old
Sandra Benhamou, <br> Mia 18 and Nathaniel 12 years old
Sandra Benhamou, <br> Mia 18 and Nathaniel 12 years old

Sandra, who are you?

Sandra

I come from Paris, but I have Italian and Tunisian origins, which have been influenced by the fifteen years I spent in New York and London where my three children were born, and today they are 18, 16 and 12 years old. I am a passionate, full-on and demanding woman. I like life to be a celebration!

Tell us about these former offices that have now become an apartment.

Sandra

Paris is full of empty, abandoned apartments. When we were offered the opportunity to occupy an entire floor of former offices, a stone’s throw from the National Assembly, we didn’t hesitate long. Located in a prestigious building where the Grancher Foundation is housed, these former office premises with their period features were spectacular spaces which were perfectly suited to being transformed into a family apartment.

What have you changed to turn them into a family-friendly space?

Sandra

I moved the kitchen from the back of the apartment to the room next to the triple reception area (dining room, living room and TV room). One of the bedrooms has become an enormous dressing room, and all the other rooms have been completely renovated.

Where should we start when we need to decorate an apartment? Have you any advice for our readers?

Sandra

Above all, I would say, rethink the spaces and the rooms and consider things like circulation and how the rooms are laid out. I always prefer open living spaces, where the kitchen is often the central element. Also, I think about the light, because that is what gives the apartment all its atmosphere and warmth. I like to multiply the indirect sources of light. Finally, art and design play a crucial role in my world. It is setting the scene with such pieces that sets the tone. I like to use strong pieces to tell a story.

Sandra Benhamou, <br> Mia 18 and Nathaniel 12 years old
Salle à manger Table en marbre Chaises Gio Ponti Appartement Paris Architecte intérieur Sandra Benhamou
Salon Céramiques Appartement Paris Architecte intérieur Sandra Benhamou
Sandra Benhamou, <br> Mia 18 and Nathaniel 12 years old
Sandra Benhamou, <br> Mia 18 and Nathaniel 12 years old
Cuisine Appartement Paris Architecte intérieur Sandra Benhamou

You can feel the influence of Italy in the choice of materials, furniture and artworks. Can you tell us more about your relationship with Italy?

Sandra

Apart from the fact that I have an Italian grandmother and that I love the country and its culture deeply, I am very much inspired by the great Italian architects and designers (Carlo Scarpa, Gio Ponti, Ettore Sottsass, Gino Sarfatti, Gae Aulenti, the ceramist Bruno Gambone, and so on.). I love their sensitivity, their taste and their creativity. Even today, when I regularly go to Milan (where my daughter has gone to study), I am still nourished and inspired by the aesthetics that are omnipresent.

Is there one master whose work inspires you more than the others?

Sandra

Carlo Scarpa, an architect moved by grace and detail. The Olivetti Boutique, avant-garde and extraordinarily precise, is emblematic of his work.

Which is the period that inspires you, nourishes you on a daily basis, in design or art?

Sandra

I am very much inspired by the 70s and 80s. These were years very rich in creativity, whether in fashion, music, cinema, art or design. They were also the whole of my childhood! They encompass the times of David Bowie and Pedro Almodóvar by way of Pierre Cardin, Daniel Buren and Verner Panton.

You love bargain-hunting. How did this come about?

 

 

Sandra

I’ve always frequented flea markets. I love to stroll around and spend time with the dealers, who are people who share my passion for objects and furniture. It’s always hugely exciting to find a rare piece that I can envisage in a project I’m working on!

Sandra Benhamou, <br> Mia 18 and Nathaniel 12 years old
Sandra Benhamou, <br> Mia 18 and Nathaniel 12 years old
Sandra Benhamou, <br> Mia 18 and Nathaniel 12 years old

I like very colourful surroundings, but I currently have a desire for purity and am playing around with shades of white.

Sandra Benhamou, <br> Mia 18 and Nathaniel 12 years old
Sandra Benhamou, <br> Mia 18 and Nathaniel 12 years old

Where do you go to search for items for your customers?

Sandra

I search in auction houses, galleries, at flea markets and during trips.

Among your other passions, photography is in the pole position. Which image from your collections is the one you are most proud of?

Sandra

We have a wonderful photograph of Louise Lawler that we lent to MoMA in New York for a retrospective.

So we could say that you are a collector and…?

Sandra

Faithful. I am faithful to my tastes, to the artists I love, to the galleries I frequent… And to my friends! I never get tired of my collections. I do have a tendency to accumulate things.

Which restaurant would we be likely to find you in, either in Paris or elsewhere?

Sandra

The Latteria in Milan. It is a small family trattoria with eight tables, the father in the kitchen, the mother in the dining room and the grandfather in the bar. Everything is delicious, fresh, tasty and typical (puntarella salad, that’s a must, and lemon pasta). It is an unmissable place to visit in Milan for anyone who wants to eat well.

Salon Appartement Paris Architecte intérieur Sandra Benhamou
Salon Livres Bibliothèque Appartement Paris Architecte intérieur Sandra Benhamou Sandra Benhamou, <br> Mia 18 and Nathaniel 12 years old
Sandra Benhamou, <br> Mia 18 and Nathaniel 12 years old
Sandra Benhamou, <br> Mia 18 and Nathaniel 12 years old
Sandra Benhamou, <br> Mia 18 and Nathaniel 12 years old

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