If you asked Parisian interior designers David Chaplain and Alexandre Roussard for their definition of luxury, they’d list concepts such as “craftsmanship, details and experience.”
Although they’re fairly young, they show a deep, nuanced understanding of luxury. David loves Italian style, from Gio Ponti to Vincenzo De Cotiis; among the French names he prefers Jean Royère and Jean-Michel Frank, as well as Rotterdam-based designer Sabine Marcelis’ light installations. Alexandre’s tastes are equally eclectic; he loves the splendour of Bollywood Regency style and the glamorous interiors of Portuguese interior designers Oitoemponto, but he is also attracted to Rick Owens’ brutalist furniture.
David and Alexandre met while they were both working for Louis Vuitton, but today they collaborate with different brands: Alexandre is the head of Diptyque’s store design and visual merchandising, while David, after collaborating with Chanel, now works for Kilian, a niche perfume manufacturer. The heart of their work is in translating the defining codes of a brand into space and atmosphere. When these codes were applied to their own apartment, the ingredients were naturally joined by a greater sense of intimacy and a quest for authenticity.
“There was no need to hide behind the name of a brand,” the duo explains. “When it came to our home, we proceeded step by step, focusing on our different points of view. And when our ideas were not at all close, we came up with a third solution that would please both of us.”
“When we visited this 780sqft apartment in a late 19th-century building in the 10th arrondissement, we immediately realised we had found what we were looking for,” they continue. It was love at first sight, an affair buoyed by the caryatids on the facade, the refined stairs and the historical details.
The renovations honed in on craftsmanship and attention to accuracy. “Preserving historical elements has been our undisputed priority, because the past is always a great source of inspiration for us,” they say. The original layout was modified to make room for a larger living space, reconfigure the sleeping area, and add a well-finished bathroom and a walk-in closet.
Materials, colours, composition, furnishings and details, electrical sockets and handles – everything favours dark woods, different types of marble and a palette of greys, as well as brass and a strategic use of mirrors. “The challenge for us was to preserve the original atmosphere by restoring the stucco and all the decorations on the ceiling,” they explain. “We didn’t want a contemporary apartment, but a classic one with panache.”
For the colour scheme, David and Alexandre utilised darker shades, accompanied by a subtle play of lighter hues to soften the space. “We opted for grey shades, and here you can see seven of them,” they say. “Instead of white, we preferred a pale grey hue and instead of black, we chose dark grey, calibrating its presence so that the further one ventures into the flat, the more the tones darken. The same colour progression can be seen when entering the bedroom, bathroom and walk-in closet.”
As for the furniture, those purchased in galleries or at Marché aux Puces live together with the owners’ personal designs. The elegant Willy Guhl-designed chairs from 1959 flank the fireplace, as well as the 1970s coffee table with an engraved brass top and, of the same period, the two Austrian glass appliqués placed just above the chairs.
Among the duo’s creations are the large bookcase that occupies an entire wall, combining brass and ebony Macassar wood, and the dining table, developed from two light brass trestles purchased at the Saint-Ouen flea market. On them, they decided to place a valuable Brecha marble top, creating a distinct contrast.
“We didn’t want a contemporary apartment, but a classic one with panache.”
In the custom-designed kitchen, the duo’s vocabulary is at its best: accurate, with a touch of glamour, bearing in mind the functionality and the pleasure of cooking. “This is our favourite room,” they both admit.
David and Alexandre dream of opening a studio of their own, where they can devote themselves to interior design projects. If you consider their home as a manifesto of their aesthetic tastes, the possibilities are absolutely tantalising.
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A version of this article originally appeared in our November 2018 issue.
Photography by Chiara dal Canto for Living Inside