When it comes to new ideas, Alexandra Golovanoff has one every few minutes. A line of cashmere knitwear in cosmetic colours, new hooks...
Laura Gauthier’s top-floor apartment has a story to tell us. A story of a risky discovery on the rooftop of a former printing works. A lot of ground has been covered since then. The building site has been replaced by a living space where nearly every element has been thought out and designed to measure. A blank canvas where the painters are the creator of Fête Impériale and her husband. The former took care of the decor and the latter of the technology. Because, in spite of its Belle Époque leanings, the connected apartment is a little jewel of innovation. Everything is controlled from a screen with the touch of a finger. A perfect marriage between ancient and modern, highlighted by the variety of wallpaper designs, mosaics and other printed materials. Laura Gauthier is an enthusiast. A person who is inspired by the cultural richness of the Second Empire, the discipline of the furniture of the forties and fifties and the irreverence of the punk movement. Her interior, like her personality, is surprising.
Laura, what’s the history of this apartment?
It took us two years to find it. We’d been back from London for several years and I wanted an apartment in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris to be near my son’s school. Everything was either really expensive or really peculiar. We were getting rather disheartened when a friend of ours, who was helping us search, called me at 10 pm to go and see a place at 8.30 the next morning.
The building was a former printing works, bought by a property developer who wanted to rebuild it from floor to ceiling and divide it into apartments. To get to the 6th floor for the viewing, I used the builders’ ladder on the outside of the building and saw that the building had been gutted. All that remained was part of the roof. To get an idea of what the view from the future terrace would be, I carried on climbing by perching on a pyramid of crates. And there…I found myself looking at a 360° view over the rooftops of Paris. Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, Beaubourg, Montmartre… Impossible to get away from.
There followed two years of building work: one to renovate the building and one to create the interior to our taste. The rooms, the kitchen, the bathrooms…almost everything was made to measure and designed by Olivier and me.
How would you describe your style, in terms of decoration?
I don’t really have one. I like to mix styles and pieces from different eras. So, I’d say a bit baroque, a bit industrial and a bit shabby chic with objects and furniture that I’ve picked from the 40s/50s to the 70s/80s.
Where did you get your inspiration?
The richness of the 19th century and the Belle Epoque via the fabrics, the prints mixed with industrial style and untreated materials. Generally speaking, a bit like a marriage between a painting by Henri Gervex with an industrial art photo from the late 70s.
Do you have an icon who inspires you?
Nobody in particular. Generally, the stories of people who are free and anti-conformist…and if they’re women, so much the better!
Is there a relationship between your work and the style of your home?
Yes. I couldn’t disassociate them. One influences the other and vice versa. I created my brand, Fête Impériale, two collections ago.
Back in 2015. In my work, I may well get inspiration from an interior, from the spirit of a place or a bit of art deco architecture. I’ve also used prints developed for Fête Impériale in my home.
Did you and your husband design the decor together?
I designed the decor with my architect friend Olivier Gay. My husband was very involved in the ‘connected’ aspect of the apartment. Everything can be controlled from an iPad. I have to say that sometimes it’s a bit like something out of a science fiction film. Just closing a blind can be very complicated.
Which room do you spend most time in?
Without a doubt – my bedroom/bathroom/dressing room.
Where do you go if you’re looking for a piece of furniture? Online or to a shop?
What do you still need in your place?
A vintage chaise longue for the sitting room, family photos and some things to decorate the walls.
What was the last book you read?
“La théorie de l’information” Aurélien Bellanger and “Un Roman Français” by Frédéric Beigbeder. They had a big effect on me.
Can you recommend a restaurant in Paris or anywhere else?
Istr, an oyster bar with a Breton/New York style influence in Rue Notre Dame de Nazareth. It’s a bit of a preview, as well as a recommendation, because it doesn’t open for a fortnight! I was able to try the place out a few days ago. It’s also Pascal’s future restaurant along with some really good mates. It’s amazing!
In my work, I may well get inspiration from an interior, from the spirit of a place or a bit of Art Deco architecture.
Credits : Constance Gennari @thesocialitefamily