Studio Razavi has been commissioned to carry out a complete renovation of an 18th-century apartment in which textures and curves dialogue with art.
Overlooking the Luxembourg Gardens, one of the most majestic parks in Paris, this apartment is located in an 18th-century mansion that was completely renovated in the years following the French Revolution. After a series of renovations that have completely distorted the building –including the interior– the architects of Studio Razavi have chosen to give it a radical alternative: eliminate everything that had been added over the years to recover an empty space and convert it into an open place, with a calm, almost monastic atmosphere. It is an architecture based on volumes and light and, therefore, by directly building the spaces, few adjustments have to be made in terms of furniture or decoration.
Naturalness is the key to spaces
In this spirit, a limited palette of materials has been chosen, with the same finish for the walls and ceilings, the same parquet flooring except in the master bedroom, and, in the hall, a more mineral cladding that marks the transition between the outside and inside. A style that brings together American walnut and Travertine. "On this basis, we work in the different spaces creating successive layers of information as you enter the floor," says architect Andoni Briones, from Studio Razavi.
The entrance is very mineral with a series of columns that separate the room, with the intention that it would not be accessible to the eye as soon as you enter. It is a buffer zone that also leads to the kitchen, and that turns towards the area of the rooms, which is hidden behind a staircase. Just because it's quiet doesn't mean it's flat. Travertine frames punctuate the openings between the living room, dining room, kitchen and rest area, creating perspectives that the architects emphasize with roundels, cornices and double wall effects and that accompany the plaster, responding to the light that the interior receives the floor in three directions: south, west and north.
Antiques that tell centuries of history
Materials that are too smooth or shiny are abandoned in favor of exciting effects that overflow with texture. The solid-colored frescoes evoke the classicism of the monasteries, a stone's throw away, but without being anchored in a specific era. “Because we are architects, interior designers and decorators, we take the liberty of blurring the lines”, smiles Andoni Briones. This is taken to the extreme in the dining room; there, due to a need for storage, the architects created a porcelain piece of furniture from a fresco similar to the one in the bedroom, following its contours and placing a magnificent 9th-century biblical stela placed between two volumes. "One no longer knows if the porcelain cabinet was created for the stele or if, on the contrary, everything echoes the others," says Briones.
In this interplay of soft curves, the living room is open to the entrance, to which one cannot turn one's back, to the spectacular fireplace, as well as to the windows that overlook the Luxembourg gardens and that frame a painting by Richard Sierra. In the center, a walnut bookcase and, on the sides, two accesses to the dining room and the kitchen. “We needed a circular movement, which is why we designed the sofas on purpose and then produced the rug with Ateliers Jouffre, which follows a spiral movement and, in the center, a magnificent table made from a piece of wood that is almost 50,000 years old. , which anchors us in time and, without being round, encompasses all angles”.
In addition to following the intention of calm and serenity on the part of the owner, the color palette is deliberately limited to give full importance to the light, the greenery of the garden and the works of art. "We knew that there would be antique pieces in very calm tones, so it is no coincidence that there are Travertine and slightly creamy colors next to the antiques," they say. To recreate the layers of time that the floor had lost, Studio Razavi chose, both in art and furniture, to combine Italian or Brazilian design pieces from the 1950s, Studio Razavi creations and pieces from more or less well-known firms.
This desire to blur the boundaries between classicism and contemporary is reflected in the choice of works that cover the entire spectrum of art, from the ancient Egyptian empire to the most recent contemporary, both in nature and volume. "We have works from all periods, African masks or ancient busts, canvases by Buren or Serra, works with texture, others in the volume, almost bas-reliefs... because we wanted to work them as a material, in coherence with their location, the perspective that offer to view...". Everything is worked in sequence, as is often the case in the work of Studio Razavi. Thus, on this floor, nothing is revealed all at once, but along a path rich in surprises and fascinating details.