Sandra, who are you?
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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!
I like very colourful surroundings, but I currently have a desire for purity and am playing around with shades of white.
Where do you go to search for items for your customers?
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?
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…?
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?
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily