Space and serenity are the ultimate luxuries in today’s chaotic times. When it comes to creating a home that feels like a sanctuary, less can actually feel like so much more – as seen in this Parisian home designed by architect and interior designer Guillaume Alan.
The setting for the apartment is as perfect as it can be for the French capital. Located in a magnificent 19th-century Hausmannian building, the apartment is close to the Trocadéro, with views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. The homeowners are keen travellers who wanted a place that felt tranquil and welcoming after their journeying, a home where they could unwind as well as entertain, in spaces that felt familiar yet unexpected.
The dining room’s minimal architecture is balanced with curved furniture pieces including the Tao armchair in ash wood and leather, and round table in corian and ash
Minimalism can often descend into feeling clinical or cold; a quality attributed to its monochromatic nature. But the triumph of Alan’s design here is such that the severely edited colour palette does the exact opposite. With the colour leached out of the space, it lets the light and architecture speak loudly, in soft tones. The result is warm and romantic, suffused with that quintessentially French je ne sais quoi.
The space is done up in a craie tone used throughout the apartment. The coffee table in ash wood and a brushed finish sits in the space where a bespoke paint colour has been used for the walls
For this apartment, the interior designer used a bespoke chalky grey (‘craie’) and applied it to different text ures and materials to create a soft, romantic ambience. “Although this gorgeous apartment isn’t shy of space, by using the same tone across the apartment and the furniture pieces, not only did we create the illusion of more space, but also allowed for more depth, texture and warmth to be added to each room – without the need to commit to a colour,” Alan says.
Born and raised in the world of architecture and design – his father was an architect, mother an interior designer and grandmother an antique dealer – gravitating to his career was natural for Alan. He launched his own studio when he was 22, in Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris, and opened another studio in Mayfair, London, in 2011, led by his design partner Emilie Le Corre.
The kitchen has been done in bespoke moulding. There’s a harmony between the architecture and furniture pieces, created by Guillaume Alan using marble and brushed ash wood
Among Alan’s earliest design memories are the ordered magnificence of the Louvre’s square courtyard, the Cour Carrée, and the tranquil simplicity of Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion in Spain. That love of classical purity shines through in his work today, be it architecture, interior design or furniture design.
Like his other projects, the architecture and interior design feels seamless in the Parisian apartment. “We understand the place as a whole; architecture, interior and furniture design are only one for me. When I start a project, I try to create a picture in my mind in which these three elements are totally connected. It’s only later that we get down to detailing each of them. Everything has been thought-out, drawn by the same hand, in line with the finest tradition of French design and décorateurs ensembliers.”
Two large double pivot doors in ash wood sit between the bathroom and master bedroom. A six-metre-long mid-height wall in marble runs from the bedroom to the bathroom
The result is flawless and harmonious, a love letter to the beauty of leaving things out rather than adding them in for the sake of it. “The architecture, the light, the floor, the materials used, the colour palette and all the furniture pieces are all perfectly linked.”Alan’s creative approach is determined by the space. To understand it in all its glory, he is known to gut existing surfaces to get down to the bare bones of the structure. “We break down ceilings, walls and floors when they don’t represent something, or obviously when they don’t have any value for the project. After the mise à nue, the ‘laying bare’, we can see and feel all the potential.”
In the Parisian apartment, the gutting of the interior resulted in the discovery of an incredible and unusually high ceiling in the living room. “This allowed us to create beautiful arches, very pure and minimal, in contrast with the entrance hall, where we drew and created a succession of stone vaults.”
The leitmotif of Alan’s work is the passion for craftsmanship and detail. Obsessed with precision, every element and texture is celebrated. His schemes are tactile and luxurious – using fine woods, such as oak or ash, in brushed finishes, natural marble, brass, natural linen, soft leather, wool, silk and bronze – and always focused on a bespoke palette.
The bathroom is done in natural marble with a tryptique mirror in brushed ash wood
Alan attributes his success to building precious relationships with clients, while working for their homes, and imagining their way of life. “In the Parisian apartment, we had a very lovely relationship with the homeowners from the start of the project until its completion, he says. “It has been a relationship based on trust; they’ve always been very supportive, embracing our elaborate plans. The idea of being able to create and to open the doors of imagination was extraordinary.”