Secretly sheltered from the hustle and bustle of Place Pigalle, Alessandro Moriconi and Antoni Calmon’s house invites you to enjoy a complete change of scenery. Like a journey through time, it transports us to the Paris of the Belle-Époque and reveals itself as a country house with a garden. An architectural gem tucked away in a secluded cul-de-sac that has lived through the golden age of the Roaring Twenties and seen the most exuberant of contemporary personalities pass by. This Directoire-style building, home to the creative consultant and the aesthetic doctor, is no exception to the rule of ambient Romanticism and happily plays host to a Franco-Italian cultural mix. A lifestyle born from the meeting of the two aesthetes. From two rich and mutually compatible worlds that nourish each other, from the decoration of their home to professional collaborations. Antoni’s elegant and playful apartment – designed by his partner Alessandro – is the most vibrant proof of this! Two inspired souls who also cultivate many passions. Opera, history and horse riding for the Catalan. “Very modern” tastes, he says ironically, which make sense once they are at home. A grand piano, beautiful art books, paintings and sculptures are to be found throughout this house, which has become a collection of all their artistic preoccupations. A cabinet of curiosities that he dreams up and arranges whimsically, like their “blue room”. A romantic alcove, an invitation to dream. In keeping with the character of the locality, the couple mix timeless styles from different periods and cultures. References carried in particular by Alessandro’s visual memory. A Regency chest of drawers, a tapestry by Jean Lurçat, a Mauritanian mat and a huge Fratino table are all on display. A “charming and comfortable” balance where, galvanised by his insatiable curiosity, the artistic director takes us into his cabinet of influences. It’s an art form.
Alessandro, Antoni: can you introduce yourselves, please?
I am an Italian from Tuscany, and I’ve lived in Paris for more than ten years. I’m a creative consultant in fashion and decoration, mainly for Humbert & Poyet, the architectural agency. My job is to provide artistic direction and inspiration depending on my clients’ projects and wishes and create places or experiences unique to them.
I am Antoni Calmon, a cosmetic doctor working between Paris and London. I spend my days making people feel good about themselves. I was born in Perpignan, I have been in Paris for six years, and I have a passion for history, opera and horse riding. Modern, aren’t I? (Laughs)
What is the story behind this house?
We’ve been in this house for six years, right in the heart of the bustling Place Pigalle, but in the peace and quiet of a private cul-de-sac. The Directoire houses in this avenue have had some famous tenants, including Django Reinhardt, Régine Crespin and, more recently, Jean-Paul Gaultier. It’s a pleasant place to live, with a very rural atmosphere.
Our house is very pleasant. It has six large windows facing west onto the garden and three more overlooking the neighbours’ garden to the rear. It is designed as a country house with a style of decoration which lends itself to bringing the outside in. The apartment is located on the ground floor, with a small blue alcove bedroom. The other sleeping area is decorated with a Bélier tapestry by Jean Lurçat. It’s a nod to the high school in Perpignan with the same name, where I went to school. We also have a library, where there is a fireplace and a grand piano for musical evenings. The dining room, living room and kitchen are combined in one large space. It disappears into the decor because it is clad in brass that reflects the parquet floor. We also have a large Fratino table similar to those in Italian convents. It can accommodate 12 guests, but not at the moment, with COVID. The entire basement is set up as an independent suite for visiting friends or family.
Can you tell us about your respective styles and how your tastes come together here?
The style depends very much on the location. This house in the Nouvelle-Athènes district is steeped in history, and it was very important to us that we should respect its character. For a Parisian apartment, the most interesting thing is the mix of styles and periods, but there is also the Franco-Italian cultural mix. So, a Regency chest of drawers with a maker’s mark coexists with bespoke upholstered Barcelona chairs, a Carlos Scarpa-inspired console sits alongside a Jean Lurçat tapestry and works by the sculptor Gérard Lanvin live happily with a Mauritanian mat.
The style depends very much on the location. This house in the Nouvelle-Athènes district is steeped in history, and it was very important to us that we should respect its character.
Alessandro, how do you find the right balance in a space?
The right balance is very difficult to achieve; we often make mistakes! One shouldn’t be afraid to doubt, to try, to change. Doing, redoing and undoing is how you do it right in the end! (laughs) When I go into a space, I immediately put myself in the place of the person who will be there in the future. What she would see, what she would feel.
Where do you spend most of your time at home?
In the little blue room where we bury our heads in a good book, tucked away in the alcove like a child’s bed with a small bookcase lit by two mermaid sconces in the Jouve style.
Do you have a favourite era? A designer or artist you feel passionately about?
I like classic designs from the Biedermeier period, with their clean and simplified lines. As for the artist, I have a passion for Diego Giacometti, whose bronze furniture is incredible!
I have a passion for Diego Giacometti. His bronze furniture is crazy and manages to be raw and sophisticated at the same time!
What are your criteria when looking for a piece?
Uniqueness and authenticity. That is to say, the piece should feel as if it has always been there.
At the moment, we’re obsessed with Henry II furniture with barley twist legs, simple, generous but historical lines. A stool, a desk, a bench: whatever you please, as long as it’s barley twist!
Are you currently enjoying working with a particular material?
Travertine for its humble but massive and noble appearance, its colour and veins, which are almost like skin, but also for its age-old historical connotation. Many of Rome’s monuments are made of travertine.
How would you define your style in three words?
Mixed, charming and comfortable.
What would be your wildest decorative dream?
Renovating an abbey or a lighthouse. We don’t find creating from scratch very inspiring. A place, a soul, an atmosphere: now that speaks to us. We soak up, digest, understand, reflect and then suggest.
And the piece of furniture you would most like to acquire?
I dream of owning a bronze Brazier table by Rick Owens and the Gabriella Crespi lamp.
I dream of owning a bronze brazier table by Rick Owens. Simple, almost prehistoric lines. A noble and massive material.
Which restaurant will you go to as soon as you can when it re-opens?
Cibus, the tiniest Italian restaurant in the capital! To be as close to each other as possible and to ensure that we eat well.
Where will we see you in the coming months?
In Sicily working on a private project for a person I like very much and with whom everything is simple. A customer who ends up as a collaborator. A dream come true!
The right balance is very difficult to achieve; we often make mistakes! One shouldn’t be afraid to doubt, to try, to change. Doing, redoing and undoing is how you do it right in the end!
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily