LE BON MIX
Featured in the February-March issue of French AD is a breathtakingly atmospheric pied-à-terre designed by architect and interior designer Chahan Minassian. So seldom are his projects featured in trade magazines that I may have actually let out a slight gasp discovering his latest. As glamour goes this is my kind of hedonism, with rooms bathed in an ethereal haze of powdery gray and shimmering mercury, as though volcanic ash had fallen and settled here, and where classic elegance marries modern bravado, with a dose of whimsy and the surreal thrown in to makes things a bit more interesting and less conventional. A modern day Emilio Terry, Minassian could rightly claim. Minassian established a design program that embraced variations on the classical to include contemporary artisinal objets d’arts, a unifying color scheme of variations on gray, and recurring luminous radiance via mirrors, crystal, gold and bronze.
The foyer, above, appears original but is in fact a recreation evocative of 18th-century classic French architecture reinterpreted in a very personal fashion. The geometric pattern of the marble and stone flooring vibrates in the “game of mirrors” infinitum. The plaster sculpture is by Day Schnabel (1960)
The salon is divided into three areas en enfilade – with two of the three visible in the photo above – enveloped in banks of ethereal mercury-glass mirror set into panels, defining the classical space in a unexpected way. Fine moldings and complementary hand-knotted silk carpets unify all the rooms, allowing a mix of styles and periods: a mirrored round end table from the 1940’s, a Louis-XVI chair and a chaise longue designed by Minassian, a trio of tables in brass doré by Kam Tin, and a 19th-century armchair. Sprinkled throughout are objets de curiosité, such as whimsical bronze tables with branches for bases by Claude Lalanne, mineral base lamps, glimmering Venetian glass sconces, a mysterious gold painting on wood by Nancy Lorenz, and agate specimens, to name but a few.
A tight view of a seating area in the salon near the fireplace showcases Minassian’s alchemical hand, where 1940’s-style glamour meets comical reinterpretations of the classics: a faux bois Louis XVI-style armchair by Minassian and a coffee table by Jacques Duval-Brasseur juxtapose a classic Louis-XVI-style sofa and the ephemeral elegance of Murano sconces.
An 18th-century buffet of rich patterned veneer was reinterpreted by Minassian with verre églomisé door panels set with medallions of carnelian and agate. A curious tableau of mineral specimens and an organic sculpture rests atop the cabinet.
The dining room, which inhabits one end of the salon, affords an enviable view of le tour d’eiffel. Can you imagine dining here in the evening by candlelight? What a sensory delight! And, arguably, the most beautiful of chairs in creation, a variation on the klismos (vintage Michael Taylor, 1970’s), surrounds the custom dining table topped with a ceramic sculpture by Peter Lane. Over a particularly decorative Louis XVI console is an engraving by Serge Poliakoff.
The luxurious master bedroom, bathed in a darker shade of soothing gray, features an upholstered bed with a chocolate brown satin cover and an orylag (rabbit) fur throw. The pair of bronze tabourets are from the 1940’s; a collection of art works by Joseph Villeneuve orbits above a console signed by Jacques Duval-Brasseur.
The classical bath is enhanced by a gleaming gold bathtub that once belonged to Christian Dior, mercury glass mirrored panels, and a mix of patterned marble.
Descriptions based on an article, Variations Classiques, written by Renaud Legrand for French AD, February-March, 2104. Photos by Gonzalo Machado.