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David and Alexandre are as sweet and light as all other passionate people. The type of person that could talk for hours about the way they designed a paint shading. Their occupation is about making people dream. Through scenographies and installations which awaken the senses. Chanel for one of them, Diptyque for the other. Sellers of extraordinay things with infinite resources. Working everyday with craftspeople can be useful: they know a lot of people. Every piece of furniture and every detail have a story to tell. For example, let’s have a look at the dining room table. It looks simple, even old-fashioned, but it was worked with luxurious materials. Brecha marble carved by their marble setter and brass trestles, bargain-hunted in the flea market of Saint-Ouen. A derision they like and show even in the stained-glass window of the corridor, covered with a thin sticker with their mingled initials. Their “Versace side”, as they say. The aesthetes are everything but self-satisfied. The apartment they entirely redesigned is also their first project together. We discover their whole story in the design of the place, room after room. An ecstatic journey where we can see singular objects and some made by great masters. Gino Sarfatti overlooks the kitchen – which has nothing to envy to the Dimore Italian duo – while the morning light in the living room caresses the Superleggera creations by Gio Ponti. An extreme refinement thanks to a lot of colours and rich materials, all perfectly mastered. Let’s admire.
David, Alexandre, who are you?
We are both interior designers. I work for Chanel and Alexandre runs the architecture and merchandising departments at Diptyque. We first met at Louis Vuitton a few years ago and met again 4 years ago.
In your apartment, who did what?
Our apartment is really a common project. We started thinking about the plans from the very first visit because, after having searched for so long, we were finally taken with a place! For every space, every detail, we looked for another option when we didn’t agree. So we redesigned until we agreed. It was our first project together and it went well. We really are compatible.
How would you define your style in terms of interior design?
I don’t think we can talk about a particular style. We are looking for a kind of visual balance. We love beautiful details, contrasts, mixes, materials which grow older, brighten and oxidise, the rather dark colours which envelop and reassure. We use a lot of mirrors in order to make the spaces look bigger and play with light. We also love lamps, and especially wall lights (there is one in almost every room). And without knowing it, in the middle of all this, there is a collection of singular objects, such as a ceramics greyhound, brass flamingos, a crystal monkey, a wood bird, plaster busts…
What are your references? Iconic people in the history of decoration who had a particular influence on you?
Jean Royère’s furniture (his freehand drawings are sublime), Gio Ponti’s and Jean Michel Frank’s interiors. More recently, the world of Dimore Studio, inspired by the Italian classics. The duo really brought something to the world of interior design and architecture today. Their creations are always surprising. In another style, I love the purity of the lines in Nicolas Schuybroek’s interiors, Faye Toogood’s curiosities and Tino Seubert’s design. I really admire Sabine Marcelis’s lights and installations, Hervé Van der Straeten’s sculptural furniture, Vincenzo de Cotiis’s works… There are a lot! I’d dream of working on a project around the art occupations with designers in trompe l’oeil style, marquetry specialists and mural painters.
I like a lot of different things. I admit I love the splendour and lightness of the Bollywood Regency style (abundance of the materials, golds and geometrical patterns); Kelly Wearstler gets a lot of inspiration from it. It’s very fussy, decorated, not really considered as good taste, but it’s really fun! In the same theme, the interiors of the duo Oitoemponto are source of inspiration for the sense of the detail and extra luxurious finishing touches. On the opposite, I admire the use of raw materials and the colours of the Belgian interior designer Axel Vervoordt and the furniture designed by Rick Owens.
Parentesi lamp edited by Flos.
The lamp Parentesi was designed by Achille Castiglione and Pio Manzù in 1971. The black steel tube can move easily on the wire. Available in several colors.
What is your colour of the moment?
There are seven shades of grey in the apartment, from the lightest to the darkest. No white walls and ceilings! We really wanted to work on atmospheres for every room of the apartment. The further you go in the apartment, the darkest is the grey. For example, the bedroom and bathroom have darker ceilings than the rest of the apartment, and it ends with the dressing room which is almost black.
Now we would like to try to have green in the corridor leading to the kitchen. A lacquered bright green that will remind the one of our Snoopy lamp we love.
What’s the object you admire the most? The one you love?
There is a whole room we love: the kitchen, where we spend a lot of time and where it’s very pleasant to cook. The light is very agreeable during the day and warm at night. The mix of materials – terrazzo on the floor, Bardiglio Nuvolato grey marble for the work table, black oak for the furniture we designed and the brass in the Gino Sarfatti ceiling light, the pipework and skirting boards – makes us feel as good there as in the living room.
We are really proud of one piece of furniture: our coffee table. We have bargain-hunted the brass trestles in the flea market of Saint-Ouen (which were originally the foot of an Italian desk) and our marble setter designed a rather thick marble top. We like the derision of this table: trestle, a board, but mixed with luxurious materials. It may be the place where we spend the most of our time, to eat, work, etc. David uses it to draw and I use it to make. It’s pretty and also multi-function!
Is there a material you prefer in your home?
From the beginning, the common thread has been the association of marble, brass and mirror you’ll find in every room of our apartment. We added different varieties of wood. You can find brass even on switches. It’s a very interesting material which, with time, has a very beautiful sheen. We can also make it very bright when we polish it here and there and then it looks like Versailles a bit!
It’s his Versace side! Even if today marble is on a lot of objects, it’s still fascinating. Our marble setter and us selected the parts we liked, worked on blending and finishing touches…
What’s missing in your apartment?
A lot of things! Carpets, a lounge table (I dream of an Ado Chale table), a writing desk for the bedroom we are currently designing, a bar for the living room, curtains… But we take our time because we love the idea of always having something to do for this apartment. It’s a lively space that evolves with us, according to our inspirations.
A room more. A small workshop where I could draw without having to clean up at the end of the day…
Is there a cheap object you’re proud of?
The brass and 50’s moulded glass wall lights in the entrance (found on Ebay). We hanged them up upside down and the effect is great!
The small cocktail-lounger in the living room we had for a pittance before this type of armchairs became fashionable. I have been having it for 10 years and it needs to be re-covered. I also like the small African stool I got at the same period. I don’t know where it had been stored but it was in poor condition, full of mud… I entirely cleaned and waxed it. I love African crafts but David is not a huge fan!
According to you, what’s the lack of taste?
The TV in the middle of the living room: the TV, hide it or leave it! We should also forget about white plastic switches and PVC windows.
Trying to have a tasteful interior. A home must reflect the personality of the people living in it! I would also say we must ban total looks. Eclecticism is what makes a home a place where we love living.
What would you advise us in terms of decoration? By what should we start when we decorate an apartment?
Having objects we love and we chose without trying to know if they all go together. Daring a colour or a pattern. Having faith in our tastes. And when we no longer like it, we should not hesitate to change! Nothing is irrevocable. A home must look like ourselves and live with our desires, a bit just like clothes we wear.
Listening to ourselves, getting inspired, and trying… Trying again and sometimes being mistaken. It’s not always easy, but when the approach is sincere it always works. And having a lot of plants and flowers! I compose my bouquets with Thierry Féret who is very talented and perfectly mixes colours and styles.
Is there a good restaurant you would recommend?
In the neighbourhood, we often go to Albion, which is a wine cellar and a restaurant. There we eat well and we’re sure to taste good wines!
Where is your next holiday destination?
These days, I’m dreaming of Italy, which I don’t know enough. I’m really attracted to this country where design and gastronomy are part of the culture! I secretly fantasise of living there some day.
As for me, I dream of Asia. Vietnam, Myanmar… It’s maybe the reason why our next holidays are not booked yet!
Chair 699 Superleggera in black lacquered ash and rattan seat, created by Gio Ponti for Cassina.
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily
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