WHEN OLIVIER MARTY and Karl Fournier of the Paris-based structure agency Studio KO had been requested by an Australian entrepreneur to create a pied-à-terre on town’s Place des Victoires, the pair reveled within the unusual layers of historical past they uncovered. The residence, on the third flooring of one of many sq.’s grand four-story mansions, wanted to be utterly gutted — time had not been type to the partitions or the flooring — however the shopper, who has constructed a retail empire recognized for its daring, bespoke retailer design, didn’t need to merely recreate its unique appeal. Living in Paris had been his dream since he was a younger grownup in Melbourne, so he insisted that the flat mirror his minimalist style in addition to town’s storied environment: In a spot of Rococo building, destruction and architectural resurrection stretching over centuries, there could also be no higher illustration of how venerable websites by no means cease evolving than the Place des Victoires — and how essentially the most elaborate facades typically conceal one thing sudden.
Built within the late 17th century by François d’Aubusson de La Feuillade, a marshal of France beneath Louis XIV, as the primary round public sq. in Paris, the Place des Victoires has been remarkably reworked by the ages. Dividing the First and Second Arrondissements, it was conceived as a homage to the Sun King’s army triumphs; La Feuillade employed the sculptor Martin Desjardins to create a statue of the monarch and enlisted the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart, who was on the time constructing Versailles’s Grand Trianon, to plan a hoop of just about equivalent adjoined homes to encompass it.
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The statue was completed earlier than a number of the homes had been accomplished, so La Feuillade, desperate to please his patron, had the unfinished buildings coated in monumental canvases with trompe l’oeil work of the facades — a form of ancien régime inexperienced display screen. One morning in 1686, the courtier unveiled, in entrance of the encircling houses (each actual and pretend), the gilded bronze sculpture of the king lording over 4 chained captives who represented the neighboring European nations that he’d defeated. The remaining facades, together with the one fronting the residence that Studio KO redesigned, had been accomplished a number of years later by the architect Jean-Baptiste Prédot. “The story of the Place des Victoires is a good lesson on illusion, on how things are sometimes not what they seem,” Marty says, “which is what we love. You can make it into something more interesting.”
THE ENTREPRENEUR was in search of for his getaway “an architecture of silence” — not the everyday impact sought in an 18th-century Parisian residence. Leaning again on the low-slung couch on a late fall afternoon within the house, which was softly lit by beeswax candles, he defined his need for concord among the many byzantine neighborhood, his personal Greek heritage and the Asian-inspired Modernism that informs his merchandise and private aesthetic.
The 1,600-square-foot dwelling, which has 13-foot ceilings, is sun-splashed throughout the day, with a entrance row of 10-foot home windows overlooking the sq.. The main bedroom within the again, furnished with little greater than a bronze-and-leather mattress by the Milan-based architect Vincenzo De Cotiis, is oddly but appealingly shaped, with angled walls and casement glass that offers views of the Basilica Nôtre-Dame des Victoires across the street. “The light is very graphic, especially in the morning,” says the owner. “I feel very still and very healthy here.” When the weather permits, he flings open every window, letting in the crisp morning air and the sounds of the awakening city.
At first glance, the apartment, which he shares with his wife and three grown children, seems untethered to time or place. The walls are off-white lime plaster with no moldings or decoration save for the elegantly scored casings around the tall door frames and window bays. Close up, the architectural details are exquisitely rendered, from the handmade forged-iron hardware to the reclaimed parquet de Versailles floor. Fournier and Marty, who also designed the Yves Saint Laurent Museum that opened two years ago in Marrakesh, where they have a second office, eschewed the obvious trick of squaring off into a wall the large supporting column — about five feet in diameter — between the front public rooms and the narrow hallway down which lie two bedrooms and a cork-lined dressing room. Instead, they left it round, laying an oak floor at its base in a radiant pattern that echoes the curve of the Place des Victoires. The kitchen, its appliances hidden beneath the counter, appears as a wall of rare gray-green Vert d’Estours marble, which comes from a village in the Pyrenees and resembles a slab of Roquefort.
The owner, who spends three to six months in Paris each year, found most of the furniture himself (with some help from Fournier and Marty) at the fabled Porte de Clignancourt flea market and in the city’s antique shops. Still, the place is minimally outfitted, which is the point: A tall armoire from the 1970s by the Lille-based design duo Guillerme et Chambron is topped by a pair of midcentury ceramic lamps with custom rush-covered shades that call to mind bales of hay in a Provence meadow; in the kitchen sits a Pierre Cardin table from the 1970s near a 1960 Paul McCobb breakfront with wicker sliding doors. A few pieces were made by artisans the owner knew through collaborating with them on his stores. The living room’s centerpiece is a free-form burnt-steel table by Fabio Vogel, a designer in Hanover, Germany, who also made several glass vessels for the apartment using a technique in which he casts molten glass inside a fireproof fabric mold.
The walls throughout are mostly empty, and while the entrepreneur plans to purchase some art, there has been no rush to fill the place. He is comfortable with the uninterrupted expanses, preferring to wait for beauty and objects to move him. Directly below his windows lies a model for how spaces morph over time, a primer on taking history in stride: Desjardins’s statue of the Sun King did not survive; it was melted down during the French Revolution (apart from the four captives, which are now in the Louvre) and replaced by a raw wooden pyramid symbolizing the triumph of the Republic. In 1810, under Napoleon, the pyramid was supplanted by a bronze nude of a French general, which stood for five years until Napoleon’s defeat. His successor, Louis XVIII, then commissioned the sculptor François-Joseph Bosio to create the monument that now dominates the square, completed at last in 1822: the Sun King reimagined for the new world, styled like a Roman emperor on horseback. “People think it has always been there, that it’s original and therefore more noble,” Marty says. “But it shows that culture is a fluid thing. It builds on itself and never stands still.”
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