interior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: gabriel wick and olivier

by anne

our parisian peek of the day takes us to a napoleonic-era townhouse in the marais, which is home to landscape architect gabriel wick and his partner olivier, who works in communications for a cultural foundation.  three years ago gabriel fell in love at first sight with the space, and nicely, met olivier the same week, so there is this sense that their relationship and living-space have co-evolved in a parallel fashion (the apartment was at the heart of their marriage celebration two months ago). the apartment is made up of two former bedrooms with the dividing wall broken down, yet remains spatially defined by the difference in style of the plasterwork.  culturally, this sort of loft-style living arrangement is something whose charm is largely lost on the french – a lot of visitors ask if they want to  divide the space up with a screen or a curtain, but gabriel and olivier like waking up to a bright wide-open view of things. we hope you fall in love with this space as much as we did! click here for additional, full-sized images. {thanks, gabriel and olivier!}anne

{photos by braden perkins}

[above: The other thing that we collect are portraits, and we love to have this eclectic family of other people’s ancestor surveying our dinners. My parents were antique-dealers for a time and our house was always a bit of a warehouse for the portraits that nobody else wanted, usually because they were a little funny-looking. After a couple of years, you build up quite a familial bond with the sitter and the life-story that you’ve built up for them. They all have names, ‘the painter’, ‘the poet’, ‘Uncle Silas’, ‘Uncle Frederick’, and imagined biographies that tend largely to dictate the order in which they are hung: at some point we reached the conclusion that «the poet » was longingly in love with « Hedda », and seems that little bit more tortured when they are not hung next to each other.]

We benefit a lot from the fact that Olivier’s parents have wonderful taste in furniture: the Sarinen table and tulip chairs and the extremely comfortable chesterfield couch all came from the apartment that they furnished as newlyweds thirty-years ago. They all took very different paths, passing through the houses of various members of Olivier’s family, before ending up here with us. I was initially dead-set against the table, being foolishly devoted to a very stolid  Empire-style table, but the moment we got it in here the table and chairs just belonged there so perfectly.

The marble-top brings so much reflected light into this corner of the apartment. I had only ever seen these tables with a very frigid-white marble top, but this one has the most wonderfully rich alabaster-like depth with a very colorful veining.  We were lucky in that the original cushions were in a great condition and went really well with the apartment.

The leather chair feels like it should come with its own pipe-smoking Jungian analyst. People don’t really tend to sit in it very much, not, I think because it is uncomfortable but because it seems to have so much of a human personality already that sitting on it seems somehow cruel.

The drafting table is the latest addition: we found it looking forlorn in an architectural-salvage shop in Brussels. Its purchase was the subject of contentious debate for the entire weekend. We were worried that the apartment was already too cluttered, but it seemed to slip right into the perfect place, creating a bit more of a barrier between the sleeping and living areas of the apartment. I had not had a drafting table since I was at school at Berkeley, and I love being able to work at a distance from the computer, drawing by hand and in the sun.

CLICK HERE for the rest of gabriel & olivier’s sneak peek after the jump!

When Olivier first moved in he forbade my bringing any more brown or cream-colored things into the apartment. Despite his best efforts, it is all brown. But I do love how worn wood and leather have such a great texture and mana to them.

I found the welder’s stool and the writing-table at the most mysteriously wonderful antiques  store in all of Paris, L’art du Temps on the Rue de Charonne, right when I first got here. I lived in a tiny furnished studio that was kitted out entirely in vintage off-white Ikea. The stool, table and I felt like a band of partisans.

The apartment essentially has no storage space, so finding this 19th-century steamer-trunk was a real god-send. It is oil-cloth over wicker, and looks like it is straight from Shackleton’s attic. I am sure that there could be some ugly Freudian interpretation of our storing everything in suitcases, but I take it as just an incitement to weekend train travel. 

We built the bookshelves ourselves, in a massive hurry, so nothing quite lines up. This is why I am a landscape architect rather than someone who deals with load-bearing structures. We don’t have a car, so we had to push three cartloads of wood on a borrowed trolley through the tight streets of the Marais. It was a riot because the wood kept on falling out all over the street, impeding traffic, but I am glad it is over. 

The massive map is a reproduction of Turgot’s 1737 plan of Paris. Despite what anybody says, Paris has changed very little since then, so the map is still somewhat valid for navigation. When I first moved here I used to go running a lot and then spend the evenings tracing out my route and figuring out the names of the churches and hôtels that I had seen.

The shelf rests on a bracket which is concealed by the cover of the bottom-most book. It is nice having a stack of paperbacks standing at the ready for a night in bed with a novel.

The lamp is an old slide-lamp from one of the Science-schools nearby, we found it at this great little lighting store on the rue du Vertbois. As it projects a fairly focused beam of light it is another great asset for nocturnal reading.

This lamp is adapted from a 1930’s space-heater. It was made by this wonderful artisan (Après Réflexions, on the rue Henri Monnier) who converts salvaged objects to new uses. It projects a marvelous reflected light onto the map and the wall that lights up this whole side of the apartment.

The kitchen that was here when we moved in seemed to have been conceived solely as a space to mix cocktails. It took a couple of months and a lot in electrician’s bills to get a space adapted to cooking. Cooking in an open apartment like this means that every guest gets involved in the process. It is really nice. We especially like that the kitchen is a bit of a circus while the rest of the apartment is so restful and staid.

Originally we were storing things just in stacked wine boxes, but then we found this very cool shelving system that had been invented for wine cellars.

We like the way that different corners of the apartment feel almost like separate rooms despite the fact that there are no real barriers between them – for me, this is what makes the space feel like a theater set. The really-worn parquet also ties everything together really nicely. The drawback to these beautiful windows is that the apartment is woefully unheated and uninsulated. The fireplace is a bit of a consolation, in that at least it projects an appearance of warmth in winter, but generally from December through April our friends keep their coats on.

The old tenant left this ruin of a clock and neither of us have had the heart to displace it from the mantle-piece. My mom found us the drink’s tray, it is from the old Raffle’s Hotel in Singapore. Oli made me the lamp behind for my birthday.

When a friend of ours told us that having the speakers of our record player elevated would vastly improve the sound-quality, I was initially in despair – I don’t really like the way speakers look. But then one Sunday morning, we realized that we could open up massive new amounts of shelf space by stacking big coffee-table books under the speakers. Initially I was all set to build something, or buy some stacking device, but then we realized that a stack of hard-covers are about the last thing in the world to need structural support. Now the underside of the chair has also become a natural place to hide records.

It took a long time to find the right chandelier. When we hung this one, it was incredible how much it became a pivot that tied the entire space together. Until that point the plaster rosette had just seemed like a piece of pointless ornament, but then spatially it became a point of focus. We found this one at a flea-market and replaced its wiring with candles. As the apartment has two massive over-mantle mirrors this overhead flickering light is reflected and magnified in a really magical way.

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