Urbane Minimalist: Inside the Parisian Home of Zadig & Voltaire

10 October 2012, written by iadmag

A browse of the Zadig & Voltaire boutique in the Marais tells you everything you need to know about Paris’s new New Look—slouchy cashmere, skinny jeans, punky boots—and makes you feel a part of this bourgeois-bohème for having merely crossed the threshold. The label borrows from the street style of London and the Big Apple, but trumps them both by bringing in a timeless French allure. Luckily, some of us don’t have to be tourists anymore to access it, since it has spread across Europe, Asia and, most notably, to New York. You get a similar feeling crossing the threshold here at the home of Zadig owner (and Lacoste scion) Thierry Gillier and his design partner and wife, Amélie.

Gillier launched his brand, named after a character from Voltaire, in the ’90s. When the couple bought this house in a residential neighbourhood of Paris, it had been abandoned for nearly two decades—a mid-century casualty of the city’s preference for period architecture. They gutted it. And though rock ’n’ roll sounds are perennially piped in from the surround sound system, the Gilliers avoided the rough-luxe look for the interiors. They had bigger plans for their impressive collection of contemporary art: an immaculate, top-spec setting inspired by the high-end boutique hotels of, you guessed it, New York.

Thierry and Amélie Gillier kept their space minimal and neutral with clean-lined furnishings, concrete floors and gallery-white walls to keep the focus on their significant collection of art. Neutral, that is, with the exception of two striking Christian Liaigre tables at the centre of the living room. Thierry Gillier says he took inspiration from André Balazs’s Mercer Hotel in New York (where he first spotted the glossy round tables), which he describes as “la crème de la crème in minimal.” Works by Jean-Charles Blais anchor the room at one end.
A three-year reno saw the house stripped back to the exterior walls, then rebuilt to make the most of natural light in the voluminous space. A spectacular double-height void alongside the living room can be viewed from various staircases and lofts. A glass-enclosed elevator (also shown above) leads to the second-floor screening room, furnished with a 10-foot screen and two sky blue Pierre Paulin chairs, designed in 1966 for the Concorde’s first-class departure lounge at JFK airport. At the top of the stairs sits a scale version of Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE sculpture; on the wall beside it are a Gérard Garouste canvas and a West African ladder.

The living room’s horizontal fireplace is entirely without flourish—a simple ground for a Tom Wesselmann canvas (from his Sunset Nudes series). Flat-screen TVs occupy niches in every room, including the garden-level kitchen, where stainless steel appliances are similarly tucked away. Separating the workspace from the dining area is a monumental brushed-aluminum island by Boffi.

Though matte-black accents intensify the kitchen decor, step beyond it and you’re bathed in natural light that is amplified by a painted-white surround. Gauzy drapes provide ambience on winter nights, but in warmer weather they draw back, along with the sliding glass doors, so there is no distinction between the dining area and the courtyard beyond. Mature trees—brought in after the renovation—protect the couple’s privacy. The space is fully wired for sound, right out to the terrace; in fact, a single iPod unit pipes audio through the entire house.

Tucked away in the rafters, the master bedroom holds the only concessions to classic French design: a graceful caned-seat bench at the foot of the bed and an antique marble-topped walnut cabinet by the window. Still, the couple has carried over the discreet bleached-wood cabinetry from the kitchen for built-in wall-to-wall storage and chose modern lighting for the bedside.

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