18th-Century Paris Apartment, Redux

General / People / Places / April 18, 2012

We should all be challenged the way architect Francis D’Haene was recently.

Sought out by clients in Paris to redesign their 18th-century apartment in Saint Germain, the New York designer was forced to split his time between Manhattan and the Left Bank.

For six months.  With a once-a-month flight to Paris.  All to create something new out of something old, for a couple, their son and a family dog.

Luckily, he had a good contractor – one who understood how to bring order and openness to three centuries of gravitational pull.

“I was trying to do a very symmetrical design in a building with crooked walls,” he says.  “None of the lines were open.  It was structurally difficult on the second floor, because it was under a mansard roof.”

The residence is now a 2,800 square-foot, combined duplex that runs from the entrance at the street to a courtyard in the rear.  D’Haene wanted to open it up so that there’s a clear view from front to back, the vistas reaching through arches and doors.

“It’s a very simple space within an old building, with minimal details,” he says.  “Still, I wanted to give it warmth and space for the clients’ art, objects and furniture.”

Serious collectors, the owners count among their holdings chairs by Fernando and Humberto Campana, a pendant by the Bouroullec Brothers, an Andy Warhol silk screen and a pair of Cindy Sherman photos.

But still, Paris in the spring holds the high cards here.

For more on D’Haene’s  work, go to http://www.dapostrophe.com

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Michael Welton
I write about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. I am the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015), and the former architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.




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