Gregory Gatserelia Designs Beirut's Fantasy Realm

BY Rebecca Anne Proctor / Jul 1 2018 / 16:59 PM

Situated high up in Beirut’s residential Platinum Tower with startling views of Zeituna Bay Marina, is an apartment designed by Gregory Gatserelia comprising a fantastical array of vintage designer pieces

Gregory Gatserelia Designs Beirut's Fantasy Realm
Francis Amiand
A view of the living room area featuring thin-legged Archibald armchairs by Jean-Marie Massaud; a Willy armchair by Guglielmo Ulrich; a gold coffee table by Armand Jonckers; a silver floor lamp by Alessandro Mendini; the Silhouette rug by Jaime Hayon. At the back are a pair of black sculptures by Tony Cragg and Juillet by François Stahly and a Robert Wilson painting (inspired by a portrait painted by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres).

A sense of poetic expression emanates through the rooms of a 1,486-square-metre Beirut apartment overlooking the Mediterranean. Bold, contemporary and artistic, just like its designer Gregory Gatserelia, the apartment is a designer’s dream world – a place which combines such unique pieces that it almost seems as if the objects themselves live and breathe in each room. Gatserelia, known for his artistic flair and theatricality, is so diverse it’s nearly impossible to pin him to a certain style or movement. What differentiates him from most is the soul that he endows to each space – his design objects, sourced with utmost care, retain a life of their own – they meld into each of his settings with grace and ease.

The co-founder of Beirut-based Gatserelia Design, which he began with his brother Alexander in 1985 in Toronto, the company has designed a wide range of nightclubs, bars, shopping malls, retail stores, hotels, restaurants and apartments, including, most recently, Nikki Beach Resort & Spa in Dubai, PLAY Restaurant & Lounge in Dubai, Society Bistro in Saifi Suites in Beirut, and Nikki Beach in Porto Heli, as well as numerous other private residential projects. In 1996, Gatserelia moved back to Lebanon where he expanded Gatserelia Design, working on a number of projects from Lebanon, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. Among his numerous accolades is the International 2012 Restaurant & Bar Design Award for Best Restaurant Design in the Middle East & Africa for Cocteau Restaurant and being attributed by The Royal Institute of British Architects.

Gregory Gatserelia

A table by Georges Mohasseb with vintage chairs. Above is a lighting fixture by Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance. The artwork in the background is by Peter Zimmermann

Key to Gatserelia is the ability to balance interiors with the right dose of functionality and beauty. Working closely with his clients in the design of their home, the result is a collaborative spirit and diverse collection of influences that define each project, as demonstrated in this mesmerising Beirut apartment. The residence features the owners’ impressive art collection, including sculptures by François-Xavier Lalanne and Tony Cragg, which are placed alongside exceptional pieces of unique furniture, such as a Marqueterie table by Ado Chale, a unique table by Georges Mohasseb, a lighting fixture by Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance, and decorative objects by Ettore Sottass.

Gregory Gatserelia

A curved Italian sofa Ico Parisi style, an Edna chair by Karim Chaya, a small black table by Wendell Castle and a bronze table by Jacques Duval-Brasseur

“My client really wanted to do something out of the box combining contemporary art, glass and design with vintage pieces,” says Gatserelia. “The owner wanted different settings within each space so that almost every room has a different story. We even created a forest promenade in a corridor complete with branches, giving the impression of being outdoors.” Gatserelia also invited local designers to do specific rooms of the residence such as Najla El Zein to do the lobby, Georges Mohasseb to design the dining table, and German Peter Zimmerman to do the wall art in the dining room. “After we defined all the spaces, we began to travel a lot, going a few times to Paris to visit various reputed galleries and design fairs,” says Gatserelia. “Everything is a selected piece – even the ashtrays. It’s not just about buying great pieces, it’s also about harmonising them and how to put together things that work well and communicate with each other. You need to educate the client and they need to know what they are buying.”

Gregory Gatserelia

A bookshelf designed by Gatserelia Design, a blue rhinoceros sculpture titled ‘Rhinoceros Bleu’ by Francois-Xavier Lalanne. Behind is a sculpture in red and black by Monique Rosanes

Gatserelia works so closely with his clients on the design of their homes that they quickly become collectors of design themselves – he instills within them an addiction and love for beautiful vintage pieces as is found in this spectacular and highly animated home. “They must love what they have both physically and emotionally,” he says. “They have to be able to touch, experience and live with these pieces on a constant basis.”