Boulevard Saint-Germain’s wide tree-lined streets and grand decorative buildings are a relic of the reign of Napoleon III. Inspired by the architecture of the time in England, the emperor tasked Baron Haussmann to transform the face of Paris to reflect the same sense of grandeur, with the result that the avenue’s buildings feature beautiful balconies and cut-stone facades.
Somewhere along this gracious avenue, in the 7th arrondissement and within walking distance of the Seine’s right bank, you’ll find an apartment that reflects every bit of that aspired-to prestige. Designer Gérard Faivre, instantly captivated by the space, was also sensitive to the importance of celebrating its heritage and retained many of the original features in his ultra-luxe final design, from the restored herringbone parquet and marble fireplaces to mouldings, door handles and stained-glass windows.
While respecting these architectural elements, Gérard was mindful of rethinking the spaces in line with a more contemporary concept of comfort. This entailed reorganising spaces and upping the luxe factor for the bedrooms (adding en-suite bathrooms and designated dressing spaces), and creating a state-of-the-art kitchen, as well as introducing all the modcons that are de rigueur in 21st-century daily life, like home automation and air conditioning.
In addition, to soften what he felt was a slight severity in the architecture of the Haussmannian style, but at the same time honouring its stateliness, he introduced more organic shapes through high-end fittings and furniture. These curves now form a consistent theme throughout the apartment, rounding out its formality. From the curved padded headboards in a guest room to iridescent hanging panels that stand proud of the original moulding in the entrance hall, the effect is calm and feminine, and extremely polished.
This sense of harmony illustrates just how clever Gérard has been in highlighting the apartment’s existing beauty, while updating it. As a specialist in creating luxury apartments, often in old buildings, he has mastered the balance of taking inspiration from the soul of a space as well as imprinting his own creativity on it, subtly paying homage while creating something entirely unique and new. The 11 large windows, for example, let in loads of light, which Gérard has played up with glossy surfaces and sheer and lustrous fabrics – velvet, silk.
You can also see subtle nods to the decorative codes of the era in which it was built in the tones of gold and black that Gérard has peppered throughout – these were symbols of opposition used by the bourgeoisie. These also serve to ground the space, which on the whole is light, airy and ethereal.
Then, at the other end of the scale, he’s custom-designed contemporary features and fittings in line with his specific vision. From large pieces like the curved freestanding headboards and bookshelves down to decorative objets and even rugs, each decor element had to speak specifically to the apartment’s sensibility.
The same applied when it came to choosing pieces by other designers, which Gérard selected to correspond with the themes of luxury and femininity he’d set in place. It’s for this reason that Spanish designer Jaime Hayon’s pieces are so prevalent throughout the apartment. In addition to his signature curvaceous aesthetic, which suited the concept for the space perfectly, his ability to blur the boundaries between décor and design resonated with Gérard, whose ‘Art Homes’ concept is about creating spaces that are complete works of art (more on this overleaf). As such, he views the spaces as blank canvases as well as a source of inspiration, where all the elements must work together to form a harmonious final picture. And, because he creates homes that are sold ready to move into, each aspect must be resolved to perfection.
Not unlike an artist, Gérard has expertly wielded colour in accordance with the design philosophy of the spaces, and a muted but luxurious palette echoes the softness of the forms and fabrics. Pale blues, greys, pinks and oyster tones, with crisp white, are fresh and modern, yet understated enough not to overwhelm the subtle beauty of the restored herringbone floors and original wall mouldings.
This, in a nutshell, is Gérard’s genius – the restraint it takes to know just how far to go.
The Gérard Faivre Formula
A promoter of both pleasure and practicality, designer Gérard Faivre’s niche approach to design has secured him a reputation as a designer of desirable luxury homes.
The ‘Art Home’ concept entails creating and selling apartments that are works of art – finished and ready to live in. The idea is that by choosing a Faivre design, the process is simplified and shortened. ‘Going through the whole process of looking for a property, acquiring it, refurbishing and decorating it, people often have to wait at least two years before fully enjoying the new property. We aim to reduce this delay to a maximum of two months,’ says Faivre.
But convenience isn’t the only reason for going this route. Art Homes are also high design by definition, and by selecting only prestigious addresses and the finest design elements, Gérard has made his creations one of a kind – uniqueness being one of the three core principles of the concept. Gérard takes inspiration from each individual site when formulating his designs, and often decorates them with custom-designed furniture or one-off antiques, so no two properties are ever the same.
The second principle is luxury – Gérard aims to push the standards of the homes he designs to the level of the best Parisian five-star hotels. Luxury to him means practicality as well as aesthetic value, so the electronic and home-automation aspects are also always carefully considered.
And, as is the case with hotels, the homes are 100 per cent ready to live in – the third key principle of this concept – and from art to objets, you can move in without hassle. This home is for sale (price on application). To enquire about it, and a range of other properties available, visit luxuryrealestate-paris.com
- Gérard Faivre Paris:www.gerardfaivreparis.com
Text: Julia Freemantle
Photographs: Supplied and Nicci Collier