Today’s post is the second installment of Throwback Thursday featuring one of interior designer François Catroux’s early commissions for a bachelor, who had just purchased a spacious apartment in a grand and old elegant building in one of Paris’s most fashionable sections. Catroux’s new client’s apartment was well-suited to his maxim that the best of rooms are spacious and contained within a classical envelope with good proportions. From there, his dictum further embraced a preference for neutral color schemes, which he believes expands space – punctuated by black accents and gleaming metal. Highly evocative of soft-modern 20th-century design, many of Catroux’s interiors from the 1970’s integrated metal, plastic, chrome, mirror and glass assembled to create a soft, luxurious elegance rather than a severe statement of hard-edged modernism.
For his client’s expansive living area Catroux divided it into three sections for living and entertaining, offering both grand and intimate scales. Slatted ebony floor-to-ceiling screens inlaid with nickel created two intimate seating areas at either end of the living area without interfering with the overall flow of space. Reminiscent of Japanese design, such elements would resurface in many of Catroux’s future projects. An all-over beige color scheme was accentuated by black and chrome, creating a highly dramatic and sophisticated aerie of its era. The central area of the living room also served as its entrance, featuring a lone Mies van der Rohe chaise covered in black leather, setting the tone for the entire apartment. Elsewhere throughout the apartment beige suede and black leather was used for seating areas complimented by small geometric rep patterns.The vertical lines of the screens were carried over to the windows’ wide bands of nickel framing them. The master bedroom features a tweed upholstered bed, suede ottomans, a fur throw and an additional screen separating the bedroom from its bathroom. The pair of black columns topped with urns is indicative of Catroux’s taste for classicism and the evolution of his style over the years, a blend of contemporary and classic elements which produced a classic contemporary style.
Before François Catroux became an interior designer, quite by luck (a monied guest, fashion designer Mila Schon, loved his Paris apartment so much she hired him to decorate her recently purchased palazzo in Milan) he had the reputation of self-styled playboy, traveling the world and befriending artists and design luminaries such as Philip Johnson. This photo of Catroux was taken sometime in the 1970’s.
From Interior Views: Design At Its Best by Erica Brown, published 1980. Photography by R. Guillemot.