a laboratory: this parisian apartment showcases its owner's unique sense of style
Nothing ever stays in place for long in art director Jean- Christophe Aumas’ apartment. ‘Things are never fixed,’ he says. ‘It’s always a work in progress. That really is my leitmotif.’ More than anything, Jean- Christophe sees his interiors as a ‘laboratory’, a means of experimentation. His approach, he says, is intrinsically linked to his profession: ‘I can’t disassociate my work from my home.’ Jean-Christophe specialises in organising ephemeral events and special projects for luxury brands.
Before setting up his own firm, Singular, he headed up the visual identity department at Louis Vuitton under Marc Jacobs. Today his clients include the likes of Céline, Dior and Boucheron. Ask him about his most over-the-top installations and he’ll mention the time he set a flock of sheep loose in the Printemps department store in Paris, and a project during which he filled a John Galliano shop with a mountain of shredded paper. And, quite often, elements originally conceived for his projects end up in his homes. A pink-painted wooden stand in the entrance to his current apartment is a case in point: it was constructed for a dinner hosted by a Parisian fashion brand.
Art director Jean-Christophe Aumas’ distinctive sense of styleis perfectly showcased in his Pigalle, Paris, apartment.
Dominating the study is a curved desk that dates back to the 1950s, one of many fortuitous flea-market finds, as is the mirror to the left of the ladder. The desk chair was designed by Marcel Gascoin and was bought at an auction, and the vase on the desk is from Sicily. Adding to the apartment’s palette of vibrant blues and greens is a cobalt rug from Bleu de Fes. Optimal use of space is evident in a guest bed on the mezzanine level, neatly perched above a bathroom.
The flat in question is something of a hidden gem. Located in the heart of Pigalle, it was inhabited by a sorcerer and soothsayer during the 19th century. Measuring 120m2, it is accessed today via a long corridor, at the end of which is an ornately sculpted door. Push that and you’ll discover the hallway continues until you finally reach Jean- Christophe’s abode, some 20m from the street. He says he was attracted by its unique nature. ‘There’s a contrast between lots of different things, which gives the apartment its charm,’ he says.
They include typical Parisian architectural attributes, such as marble fireplaces and ceiling mouldings, as well as a skylight and a striking set of stainedglass windows whose bright colours are projected inwards on sunny days. ‘The flat becomes a little cathedral,’ says Jean-Christophe. Another draw was the patio, as well as the apartment’s overall atmosphere of tranquillity.It’s a big contradiction to the neighbourhood, which is very animated,’ he says. ‘Pigalle has become one of the new hotspots for going out.’
Adjacent to the master bedroom is the dining room, which is bathed in light thanks to exquisite stainedglass windows original to the apartment, reportedly inhabited by a soothsayer in the 19th century. The bright red rug from Bleu de Fes is a cheerful departure from the predominant blues and greens.
One of Jean-Christophe’s primary concerns was to increase the amount of natural light in the space. He added a new skylight above the front door and installed all-glass doors – formerly solid wood – to access the terrace. He was also keen to blur the boundary between the inside and outside, and did so by installing an abundance of plants. ‘I wanted to create a kind of mini-jungle,’ he says. ‘I like a slightly haphazard, untidy spirit.’ Among Jean-Christophe’s most admirable talents is an astute and original way of using colour. He painted the opening between the entrance hall and sitting room three different hues, and chose cerulean for a ledge above the bed. The blue of the dining room walls is so pale, however, that you initially imagine it to be white.
Colour-coordinated books and knick-knacks are housed in a plywood bookshelf, in front of which, on the left, is a chair by Warren Platner. The stool on the right was bought in Cape Town;
The inspiration for the rest of the decor was diverse. Both the kitchen and bathroom are reminiscent of a traditional Greek house. ‘The Mediterranean influence comes from the fact that I’m from the south of France,’ says Jean-Christophe, who was born in Aix-en-Provence. Throughout, the form of the stained-glass windows gave rise to the incorporation of numerous arches and curved shapes.
Very few of the furnishings were brought here from his previous home. Exceptions include the 1970s leather and brass dining chairs, acquired at a Brussels flea market, and the Vincenzo De Cotiis sofa in the sitting room, which is one of his favourite possessions. Another of Jean-Christophe’s passions is ceramics. One of his pieces, from Danish potter Frederik Nystrup Larsen’s Not a Sports Club series, has a rather naïve nature that he particularly likes.
The light-filled living room opens up to the plant-laden terrace via floor-to-ceiling glass doors, installed by Jean-Christophe, and features a DC105B sofa designed by Vincenzo De Cotiis for Progetto Domestico, and a small glass-topped brass table from Brussels on the far right. The irregular-edged blue. mirror above the fireplace is an example of his penchant for deliberate imperfections, while a pair of vintage cactus seagrass sculptures – also from a Paris flea market – provide a natural, textural element to complement the verdant space.
Deliberate imperfections are evident elsewhere, too. Artworks are propped nonchalantly against the walls or on the floor, and the blue mirror above the fireplace in the living room looks as if it has been cut out badly. Its irregular edges are, however, intentional. Jean-Christophe also painted only part of the kitchen ceiling, but is so satisfied with the way it looks that he’s planning to leave it incomplete. Still, considering his love of constant change, you’re never quite sure.
A niche in the kitchen displays a vintage green blown-glass vase created by La Verrerie de Biot, purchased by Jean-Christophe at the Porte de Vanves market in Paris, and the three ceramics on the counter, also by Mado Jaulin, are from the Saint-Ouen flea market. On the far right is a brick sculpture created by designer Patricia Urquiola.
Stained glass makes another appearance in the main bedroom, where a pixellated photograph of a TV screen taken by Jean-Christophe and silver canvas by Swiss artist John Armleder contrast with the brighter hues of the space. The scatter cushions on the bed are from The Conran Shop.
Blurring the boundary between the inside and outside of the apartment is a plethora of houseplants, which add to Jean-Christophe’s ‘slightly haphazard’ approach to decorating.
A 1970s glasstopped brass table in the main bedroom holds an artwork by Marc Turlan and a blue ceramic vessel from Sicili. The large glassed artwork behind them, and the small pink table were both created by Jean-Christophe. The yellow stool on the left was bought in Cape Town.