For French architect and designer Jean-Louis Deniot a chance encounter with one of India’s high profile families led to the commission of his dreams: the creation of an astonishing estate in New Delhi, India. With a gifted sense of scale and proportion, Jean-Louis Deniot creates interiors with classic architectural details that have been modernised and sharpened for contemporary times.
“I have always loved every historical period,” says the designer. “However, even when I use academic details, I come out with my own versions of them. I always want to get as far as possible away from the white box. My interiors are about atmosphere, character, texture and a sense of harmony, inevitably.” Deniot’s impressive style of blending traditional design with unique contemporary approaches is the emblem to his highly successful and flourishing career. “I love the purity of modernism, but I also appreciate the previous millennia of architecture,” he adds. Frequently working in muted colours, Deniot adds drama with show-stopping finishes and material combined with remarkable sculptural and textural elements.
An exterior view of the estate with bronze and glass hurricane lamps surrounding the black marble pool and umbrellas sourced been sourced from Indonesia. Photography by Stephan Julliard/ Tripod Agency
Within the span of just a few years, Jean-Louis Deniot has amassed a dazzling roster of worldly clients – mainly by word of mouth. He has designed interiors for clients based in New Delhi, Capri, Monte Carlo, New York, Chicago, Miami, London, Istanbul, Moscow and Doha, to name a few. Currently, Deniot is working on the interiors for The Glebe, a landmark architectural project in London’s Chelsea district. Designed by Gumuchdjian Architects, the venture consists of a striking new residential development nestled within private and landscaped gardens.
The construction of Deniot’s grandiose New Delhi estate required a colossal leap of faith. After a coincidental dinner meeting in New York, the owners, who were convinced by his sense of style and charm, enlisted him to design an estate on a five-acre plot based in the south of New Delhi. Established in an area called Chattarpur Farms, a sought-after enclave that currently houses some of New Delhi’s most exclusive residences, Deniot was responsible for the architecture, construction, landscaping and interior decoration and completed the extensive 25,000 square-foot house in just over five years with a team of highly accomplished Indian craftsmen.
Deniot’s initial brief was to create a house that looked one hundred years old. He was also presented with an image of Picasso’s 19th century Villa California in Cannes, telling of the owner’s passionate admiration for French design. However, Deniot managed to convince them otherwise and not have them simply create an impression of a French house transplanted in India. “When I started drafting the façades, I did not want them to look too French as it would have felt out of place,” he says. “True to India’s heritage, I wanted more of an English Colonial feel and had the Chateau de Groussay in mind as well as influences from the painted façade of the Academy of Arts Building in St. Petersburg.” Deniot largely acquired inspiration from the architecture of the celebrated British architect Edwin Lutyens in New Delhi. The majestic portico on the front façade and the colonnades that encase the side wings are specifically characteristic of such an influence.
The Garden Room. Photography by Stephan Julliard/ Tripod Agency
Inside, however, French influences are abundantly found. In the drawing room, a sofa evokes the designs of the revered 20th century designer Jean-Charles Moreux, while the dining room houses Empire-style wall paneling. When it came to the interior architecture, Deniot says his goal was to create a grand Neo-Classical feel with a European layout. “I highlighted iconic Parisian 1940s silhouettes for sofas and upholstery, updating, simplifying and mixing them up.” Most of the interior areas derive inspiration from Deniot’s interpretation of the French Directoire style.
However, the master bedroom suite on the second floor is an exception, being Art Deco in spirit. “I did not want a sort of unanimity that you sometimes witness through homes. I like the sense of having different rooms for different times of the day; the rooms should look alluring or calming during the day and possess a different mood at night.” Deniot has endowed each room with a different style through various floor patterns, door styles, panelling profiles and ceiling designs. Even so, they all relate to one another. “It’s no surprise that it took 5 years to complete!” exclaims Deniot.
A fragment of a Sue Mare cornice that the decorator found at a Parisian flea market sparked the design of the walls in the master bedroom. Meanwhile, the black and white marble accents throughout the property, give a nod of appreciation to the legendary palace of the Maharaja of Indore fashioned in the early 1930s by the German architect Eckart Muthesius. One of the estate’s highlights can be found in the elegant double staircase foyer, with its imposing 38-feet-high ceiling, sweeping balustrade, and symmetrically geometrical patterned flooring and wall decor, created with precious locally-sourced marble. “Luxury is when it seems flawless and not contrived,” adds Deniot. Luxury and harmony in design transpire when there is a hierarchy that works due to the ideal and cohesive balance between all the elements: architecture, interior design and curating – as successfully illustrated here by Deniot.
The secret to Deniot’s success is his custom made approach towards each assignment. “Each interiors project presents a specific, individual point of view and reflects the requirements and life of my clients,” he says. “Ethically and aesthetically, I never repeat a design. I use mostly antique or one of a kind vintage accessories and furniture, and I custom design everything else. This way I achieve a very specific result, which is unique to each project and each client.”
A majority of lighting, rugs, furnishings and fabrics used in this project were designed by Deniot and manufactured in India. Developing prototypes was exceptionally swift. “I would draw something and a sample would be ready in 15 minutes because the carpenter had set up his studio on the property.” Deniot claims that acquiring local fabrics also required alacrity. “It is not like in the West, where you can pick a textile, order it and have it ready a few weeks later,” he says. “In India, you have to purchase it immediately because there’s a limited amount and they will not print more.” Yet, this was the charm of sourcing such material since it is not mass-produced and was in limited quantities. Till now Deniot frequently visits fabric markets in New Delhi and Jaipur. He cherishes his work with the local craftsmen there. In addition to his architecture and interior design work, Deniot has also designed limited-edition furniture and lighting collections for commercial brands such as Jean de Merry, George Smith, Bronze d’Art Francais, Marc de Berny, Pouenat and Baker Furniture.
Deniot’s design mandate did not stop with the house. He also took charge of the garden design after being presented with a proposal by
a local company offering box hedges in the form of waves and multicoloured gravel. Deniot was unimpressed by the “Waikiki beach-inspired landscape proposal.” After taking charge, he presented an elegant layout featuring a black marble pool surrounded by balustrades, alleyways, and beds of jasmine and roses tucked within palm trees. The property was complete. This country estate is a resplendent tribute to the genius of its architect, perfectly positioned, discreetly ornamented and inarguably sublime.