When Samantha Hauvette and Lucas Madani, co-founders of Parisian interior-design studio Hauvette & Madani, were first shown this apartment by their clients they were completely enchanted.
Just a short stroll from the city’s famous Trocadéro, it may not have had the architectural heritage of nearby landmarks, but from the art deco-influenced detailing on its staircase to its double-height dimensions, this 1980s building had a very special atmosphere.
‘We could imagine Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé having lived here,’ enthuses Samantha, conjuring up images of the wild parties the long-time partners threw back in the 1970s. Two photographs depicting scenes from one of these infamous soirées hang on the mezzanine level in this beautiful home and the similarities are simply striking.
Essential to this comparison is the oak panelling. Part of the one-bedroom flat’s original design, there was never any question of Samantha and Lucas removing it. It may have been out of favour for a while, but everything comes back into fashion and, for this duo, its effect was irresistible.
‘When you walk into a room clad in wood it has a special sound, a special smell,’ says Samantha. The colours of the oak had faded over the decades, but an application of varnish helped its beauty shine through. Now, it’s no longer oppressive and dark. Instead, it shimmers in the sunlight. At night, the streetlights create tiny points of reflection everywhere. ‘It’s a little bit of magic.’
Samantha and Lucas’s challenge, however, was not to let this decorative choice dominate. ‘We are always thinking about the contrast or the balance. That is our main objective,’ explains Samantha. ‘If we feel that the balance is rich, we are happy.’
Key to that equilibrium in this home is an edit of furniture that includes gems from the 1930s, 1970s and today. ‘For us, there is no favourite period, just favourite pieces,’ adds Samantha. Here, those include ‘Groovy’ chairs by Pierre Paulin, a ‘Facett’ sofa by the Bouroullec brothers and an oversized Isamu Noguchi pendant light – all dressed in white for maximum impact against the wooden backdrop.
The kitchen, too, is what Samantha calls ‘a pop of air’. With Calacatta marble countertops and walls painted to create a time-worn patina, it wears marks of decadence, but with a lighter touch. The same could be said of the bedroom, with its mirrored wall, and the ensuite, where Emperador marble adds gravitas.
Just like Saint Laurent and Bergé’s pad, this is a home designed for sophisticated hedonism. ‘It’s ideal for apéro,’ adds Samantha, who notes that she always finds space in her interiors for a well-stocked bar. ‘People arrive early in the evening and drink wine, eat cheese and listen to music late into the night.’ hauvette-madani.com