Effortlessly chic interiors in a particulier style
As a former fashion PR and now a successful homeware designer, Pierre Sauvage knows all about cool interiors. Here he talks about his Rive Gauche apartment, his career change and shares some tips for creating a stylish home
This is a love story. It began three years ago, when Pierre Sauvage first set eyes on this apartment on the piano nobile of an eighteenth-century mansion in the heart of the Rive Gauche (Left Bank). He knew then that it would be hard to resist: “We were living in the same neighbourhood, in an apartment in a typical Haussmannian building which I had decorated in a very comfortable nineteenth-century style. But here I was seduced by the magnificence of the rooms, the light that flooded them, the extraordinary quietness of the place, and the unique feeling of being in a chateau in the centre of Paris.”
With ceilings just over 18 feet (nearly 5½ metres) high and rooms that, while small in number, were vast in size, Sauvage retained the original layout, while counterbalancing it with bold floor coverings: “The panelling is listed and the architecture is classic, so I put the focus on rugs and mixed and matched textures and fabrics, like David Hicks did in the 1970s.” For the walls he chose a palette of blue and green, while the drapes are in plain colours to give a lift to the overall feel.
The same passion for bringing different styles face to face is evident in his choice of paintings and objects, with huge canvases by contemporary artists such as William Monk and Guillaume Bresson rubbing shoulders with more rustic provincial and sometimes almost ethnic craftwork, including baskets, ceramics, and glass, in a profusion that Sauvage describes as “creating surprises and sometimes generating an exuberance of which Parisians so often – and mistakenly – deprive themselves.” A word to the wise.
What made you decide to switch directions and launch a career in designer homeware and decoration?
I felt I had done everything in the world of press and public relations. I loved working for Dior and for Castelbajac, and, after that, for agencies, but I wanted to work for myself, to put my energies into developing a collection and expanding a business.
There was only one brand for whom I could imagine shaping the future, and that was Casa Lopez. It wasn’t just that I was already familiar with it, since I had handled its media relations over a long period, but I also loved the style of its owner, Bernard Magniant. Eventually, in October 2014, he agreed to allow me to buy it.
Since then I have set out to give it a higher global profile as a designer homeware brand, while at the same time keeping its prices relatively affordable. There has always been a lightness of touch about Casa Lopez, a relaxed approach to decoration and interior design, and you can see this in its ranges of boldly patterned rugs – put one of these down in a room and it changes the whole atmosphere
How would you describe the Casa Lopez style?
The style is vibrant and Mediterranean, and all our ranges feature a combination of the rustic and the sophisticated, of materials that are simple and noble. Our rugs may be woven in a combination of jute and wool, for instance, while some of our furniture items, like the low Spanish sideboards made especially for us in woven cane, have extraordinarily intricate decoration.
The Casa Lopez style is perhaps best encapsulated in our tableware. Provençal Terre Mêlée services and dishes decorated with reworkings of sixteenth century Andalusian designs create the kind of vivid and colourful table settings that my guests enjoy.
I attach huge importance to the notion of comfort. Everything must be both visual and tactile, with sofas that are welcoming to sit on and textiles that are soft to the touch.
Being able to feel comfortable in your own home is absolutely fundamental. Even when I lived in tiny apartments, I always had normal-sized furniture. There is nothing worse than small things in small spaces: it makes everything seem smaller. And a garden, or even a balcony, is still an excellent way of keeping the outside world at bay and opening up new vistas.
Would you say that your art de vivre is typically French?
I don’t know about that! All I know is that my passion for bold floor coverings and drapes has more to do with British and American styles in decoration. But at the same time my fascination with the product, my obsession with detail, both in the table settings and the menus of the dinners I give, seems to me very French!
The way we entertain nowadays is different from the last century. French couples used to be given a dinner service and a trousseau of linen when they got married, which would last them for the rest of their lives. Now that our lives are so different and we have so many more products to choose from, we tend to mix dishes with different patterns instead of having a single service. And young couples can no longer be bothered with cleaning silver for the table, so it is disappearing, which is a shame.
Contemporary decoration reflects contemporary fashion: people mix and match designer and antique pieces with more inexpensive items. The most important thing is to respect the spirit of your living space while at the same time having fun with it. This is what I have set out to do in Paris, in Normandy, and in the Lubéron.
Interview by Fabienne Reybaud.
Buy the book
From Effortless Style: Casa Lopez, by Pierre Sauvage and Fabienne Reybaud, Flammarion 2018. Photography by Vincent Thibert.
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Don’t reside in a big Parisian apartment? Fear not – just steal the style with some astute high street purchases... Prices and availability correct at time of going to press.
Put your feet up
This Hampton ‘flame orange’ pouffe in sumptuous touchable velvet lends some fiery contrast to beige neutrality in your lounge. £129, www.made.com.
This Titouan floor lamp designed by Emmanuel Gallina and available from La Redoute, features a base and stem in matt black metal and perfectly blends artisanal and contemporary design.
Its rounded lines bring softness while the lampshade, woven from bamboo and covered with sheets of rice paper, diffuses a soft, subdued and warm light: €599, www.laredoute.com
Looking for the third dimension?
Wooden panels are very elegant but not all dining rooms and lounges boast the height of Pierre’s apartment. So try a modern twist, with a fun 3D wood wall from www.murs3d.fr. Model shown:
Lagos, from €82 per square metre.