PRODUCTION AND TEXT MÁRIO DE CASTRO / LIVING INSIDE PHOTOGRAPHY FRÉDÉRIC DUCOUT / LIVING INSIDE
Just as you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, neither should you judge a home by its façade. In the south of the 16th arrondissement in Paris, there sits an unassuming apartment block built in 1962. What one might not expect from this modest exterior, however, is that housed within its indistinct walls is an apartment bursting with colour and personality.
"I was born in the south of France and, so naturally, all my life was dominated by the colours, the lights and the sun," says Fabrice Ausset, an interior designer and the owner of this vividly hued abode. "My life philosophy is all about creating or re-creating astonishing places with quality but rich in emotions. It's all about the magic that operates between the existing architecture and the construction of a décor along with a minimum of details that build harmony between objects and colours."
Ausset and his family were looking for a change in their lives and ended up finding the 186-square-metre apartment in this rather chic area of Paris. The refurbishment of the three-bedroom space took one year and almost €400,000 (HK$4.2 million) to complete and, Ausset says, the resulting look reflects his particular tastes and design views.
Ausset attributes his love for diversity and mixing and matching to some of the biggest names in design, referencing the American duo Greene & Greene and Japanese architect Tadao Ando as two of his sources of inspiration - not to mention his French upbringing. "In France we say that for a dish to be appetising, it has to be created with a contrast of crunchy and soft textures, hot and cold temperatures, bitter and sweet flavours," he explains.
"The same [applies to] the spaces I create. I design them with both dark and bright, graphic and soothing, structured and fluid [elements]."
In the living room, for example, the designer decided to cover the original walls with a dark, textured resin and chose unusual finishes, such as woven materials and old crates, for elsewhere in the apartment.
Reusing materials and combining textures is something the innovative designer does remarkably well. One of his latest designs, for example, is the Silverwing collection for the French house Pouenat, which combines stainless steel and smoked Perspex in an armchair and a sofa, the latter of which is showcased in the living room.
The creative designer says he always aims to create a design and décor customised specifically to the character of the space. "I love playing with objects, re-creating new vibrations, like the ceiling on the living room of my apartment," he says, explaining that he managed to give the illusion of a higher ceiling with a distinctive design of wooden sticks on the plaster surface.
In this space, it's clear that Ausset played on his love for dichotomy and blurred boundaries. He removed the wall between the living room and entrance for an open, fluid space that connected the intimate areas with the outside. He also went for the unexpected when it came to his use of colour. "We made a dramatic choice with the colour palette in the main spaces," he says. "We used Veronese green and dark grey as dominant colours for the walls, while bringing in touches of bright colours through the various objects in the rooms."
Meanwhile, the furniture and accessories found in these rooms are not for the everyday, unadventurous home interior. Between the living room and the hallway, for example, is a pillar-like wall made of leather, wool and Lurex, a material created by Charles Schambourg, whose company in Brussels specialises in woven leather. It provides the backdrop for the metal chimney, which looks more like an art sculpture than a functional piece of furniture. In the dining room, the walls are covered in a rough pine normally reserved for boxes. "The crate wall, made from pine wood panels, is simple raw material but has a strong and refined pattern," Ausset says. "It's also a nod to post-war Italian design, and it's an unexpected material to be found in a dining room."
n contrast to the wall's rustic and historic look, the dining table features a glass top supported by lacquered steel legs and plexiglas tubes threaded with LED lights, surrounded by brightly coloured, full-sized sculptures.
Similarly, Ausset used natural spruce for the living and dining room floors, but opted for grey-blue marble floors for the hallways, while the brightly painted bedrooms have custom-made carpets by the Danish company Edge.
It might not be for everyone, but Ausset's eclectic tastes can be a breath of fresh air in the world of safe, classic interior design. This home is the perfect example of how the eccentric designer injects a hint of the unexpected into an everyday apartment in Paris, infusing the space with a burst of colour, individuality and spirit.