House tour: inside a Paris apartment with mind-bending interiors
In this world, the desk resembles a giant spider; a carpet of ‘algae’ climbs right up the wall; and a multi-legged sofa looks as if it might creep sideways across the room at any moment. It could be described as Kafkaesque, but there’s nothing dystopian about this innately cosy scene.
‘Otherworldly’ is often used to describe the work of Fabrice Ausset. The Paris-based artist, architect, sculptor and designer is a creator keen to escape the well-trodden path and his own home (ironically in the Sentier — or ‘Path’ — district), may as well be light years away from the 2nd arrondissement. The building of his studio-gallery-apartment Galerie Studiolo dates to the late 18th century but the location is more cutting-edge. Once a textile manufacturing area, it became the city’s own Silicon Valley in the 1990s and is still home to several tech start-ups as well as a new wave of creatives.
In the living area, Studiolo Collection sofa and armchair, made by Chastagner, Dines and L’Atelier des Carmes in woven wire and wool with a bronze base, steel fireplace and chimney, Deep Bark screen in polished stainless steel and wood, Webwood coffee table in Oregon pine and marble, Méditerranée rug, all by Fabrice Ausset; vase from Thomas Fritsch–Artrium, Paris.
Ausset’s projects have spanned renovations of restaurants, hotels and even a castle in Normandy, as well as apartments, a concept store on the Champs Elysées and a foray into furniture design. It is the latter that has allowed Ausset to fabricate more exclusively what he calls his “felted and organic universe”.
The interior architecture of his own apartment has stayed much as it was, and the renovation took only a few months, focusing as it did on finishes, materials and colours. “The layout was done very quickly,” says Ausset. “Things naturally found their place, probably because when I arrived here, I already had everything in mind.”
In the entrance, Zebra Loos chair and Black Skeleton bookcase, both by Fabrice Ausset; Ring lamp by Denise Gatard from Thomas Fritsch–Artrium.
On the ground floor is a large living room that opens directly onto the street, and on the first floor is a pied-à-terre, or reception room, an office and an adjoining bedroom and bathroom. “It was a rather exceptional place that needed to be livable in terms of modern comforts,” Ausset notes. He intentionally kept some of the not-so- modern quirks; the old doors and frames have been stripped down to the original wood; and the old radiators appear as decorative elements in their own right.
In the reception room, or pied-à-terre, Silverwing benches, Collection BC suspension lamp and Nénuphar rug, all by Fabrice Ausset; Alchimia Ollo dining set by Alessandro Mendini; Roger Capron vase from Thomas Fritsch–Artrium.
Otherwise, it is a veritable treasure trove of Ausset’s own pieces along with similarly playful works by masters of postmodern (Alessandro Mendini), mid-century (Pierre Paulin) and contemporary design (André Dubreuil). “I like furniture and objects that tell stories,” he explains, “and that aren’t just utilitarian.” Cases in point are the steel fireplace and a screen in wood and polished stainless steel, but the standout is that wall-climbing carpet juxtaposed with equally anomalous objects that might furnish a Luca Guadagnino film — if it were set on another planet.
In the bathroom, sink in marble; vanity bench in oak; Collection BC stool, mirror and suspension lamp, all by Fabrice Ausset.
Yet Ausset’s interiors elegantly avoid the trek into parody. Upstairs the scene is looser, comparatively pared back with the walls left devoid of pictures and focus owned by the Mendini dining set and Ausset’s Silverwing benches. The adjoining bedroom is simpler still, almost austere, and the whole floor is united by its sole treatment of oak planks. The palette is similarly calming, though far from neutral, in shades of blue, grey and chocolate applied using a special process that makes it “soft to the touch,” says Ausset.
The designer’s own description of a felted universe suddenly makes sense. The exaggerated textures and multiple facets make for a sensory journey beyond the ordinary house tour. This is a very personal ode to experimentation, the product of a curious — almost childlike — imagination. On his homepage, Ausset asks: “What about re-enchanting daily life?” His home and studio aims to do just that.
In the office, Collection BCC chair and Collection BCF armchair, both by Fabrice Ausset; table by André Dubreuil.
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