It was the views over the rooftops of Paris that attracted the now-owners of this two-floor apartment in the city’s ninth arrondissement. Through the windows, all was perfection. Inside, though, this home was in a dilapidated state.
Poorly considered 1990s redesigns had done the place no favours, but this couple, both ardent art collectors, saw potential, enlisting the help of interior architect and designer Olivia Massimi.
‘They didn’t want a conservative apartment,’ says Olivia, ‘so I played the “arty” card.’
This approach to the six-month renovation project is evident from the moment you walk into the entrance hall, which has been designed to look like a contemporary art gallery. White walls radiate new possibilities, while a brass picture rail and spotlights are placed to display the constantly evolving art collection to its best advantage.
After having opened up the main living areas downstairs, reconfigured the staircase (which now features a curving handrail crafted by a local artisan) and uncovered the full height of the ceilings on the second floor by exposing original beams, Olivia was faced with what she describes as ‘a blank canvas’. ‘It gave us the freedom to write a completely different story,’ she adds.
Key to that new narrative was a prominent artistic thread. The brass picture rails present in the entrance hall continue in the living and dining rooms, allowing the owners to switch around canvases, prints and photography (including pieces by the likes of South Korean artist Soo-Kyoung Lee and leader of the Op Art movement Victor Vasarely) any time inspiration hits.
When confronted with the one restriction this project presented – unmovable ventilation ducts that split the two central living spaces – Olivia devised a fittingly creative solution: a double-sided fireplace that looks like it should always have been there.
The gallery look can be cold, but here artworks are not the only sources of colour and texture.
Black lacquered doors and details add a sophisticated edge and an element of theatricality when paired with recognisable furniture designs by 20th-century masters Gio Ponti, Tobia and Afra Scarpa and more.
In the kitchen, the drama is elevated. Perfect for partying at home, the focus of this space is its black, rubber-topped bar counter, but a material palette of terrazzo, emerald tiles, white marble and foxed mirror gives it the feel of a jewellery box packed full of gems.
From this once-blank canvas, Olivia has conjured a home now bursting with life. For a couple who thrive on entertaining friends with dinners and drinks gatherings, there could be no better composition.
The past year may have seen social diaries curtailed, but, as we head into a more convivial future, this artful apartment is ready to show its full potential. oliviamassimi.com