There is always a moment of joy to be found in stumbling upon a secret garden. You feel that tremor of excitement when you step through the anonymous garage door in the 11th arondissement of Paris that leads to this artfully crumbling former carriage house. Belonging to painter and ceramicist Ema Pradère and her partner Frédéric Winkler, one of the founders of the lighting design company DCW Éditions, the building has a greenhouse-like entranceway full of ferns, vines and field maple plants. Industrial-style tables and chairs offer a quiet spot to sit and enjoy the greenery.
‘It’s an informal space,’ says Ema, ‘where people pass and share confidences.’ The unusual thing about this inner-city property is that it has the spirit of a country house. Removing the smooth plaster on the walls and restoring the original stonework in the downstairs rooms revealed texture and hidden rustic features. Lighting, meanwhile, is never harsh. Instead, gentle pools of illumination have been created by placing the lights three quarters of the way up the walls.
Ema says that she feels as if the house ‘resonates with the mystery of life’, from the vibrancy of the many houseplants to the tactile qualities of the natural materials that can be found in every room. She is drawn to ceramics because they are ‘accessible and humble’ – two words that also sum up her approach to design.
For, despite this being a three-bedroom house in one of the grandest of European cities, there’s a gentle modesty to this home, apparent in the rough-hewn walls and simple, beautifully crafted furnishings. Ema is an admirer of the ancient Japanese art of kintsugi – repairing broken pottery using gold, in a way that transforms imperfections into artistic details – and you can see its sentiments at play here. By carefully restoring this building’s rough bones, she has revealed its true charms. dcw-editions.fr
For the full house tour see ELLE Decoration June 2018
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