Overlooking Le Moulin de la Galette, the historic windmill in Montmartre, Paris, this 1970s’ loft apartment is set out like a gallery space housing the inhabitants’ collection of contemporary art and furniture. Initially, the homeowners – Caroline Wiart and Patrice Galiana – lived next door, but when the apartment came up for sale, they knew it was ideal as a larger space to house their (then) young family, and collections (Wiart studied art history before specialising in contemporary art and furniture; her partner is an art collector).
The apartment was gloomy and dark when the couple first purchased it. “But as it had windows on three sides, it had potential,” says Wiart. The couple opened out the space, removing all internal doors aside from the one that leads to their daughter’s bedroom, which is the only space that is enclosed. “The open-plan space is created by the pieces of furniture themselves, with the Charles Eames elliptical coffee table at the centre of the circulation,” says Wiart. “The collection was built gradually, through our encounters with the pieces, which we see as works of art, not decorative items. They set the tone of the apartment.”
Some of the couple’s favourite pieces include the three putrelle by Enzo Mari (created from a double T-beam bent to make a usable object; these can be seen on the work desk, which was designed by 1950s’ designer Jean Prouvé), the Teodora chair by Ettore Sottsass (located opposite the desk, with grey patterning on white and a clear backrest) and the work of French photographers, such as Alain Fleischer, Lionel Fourneaux and Jacques Damez. “The work of these photographers is very conceptual and questions the art of photography itself,” says Wiart. “We choose each piece for its interest. Meaning is essential for us.”
Wiart added a resin floor and painted the walls white to accentuate the available daylight. To further this and also let scenes of the windmill into the space, the designer removed the curtains, although there are shutters when needed for privacy. Colour is used sparingly, but where it is used, the tones are bold and bright. “The contrast between the pure white walls and the vivid colours of some pieces of furniture brings a form of rigour and strength to the apartment,” says Wiart. “The selection is sharp, with a mixture of periods, from 1950s to today; design trends: French, Italian, American; and materials, like metal, wood and Formica.”
The dining table and chairs are designed by Jean Prouvé. The tabletop is Formica in a rare grey colour and the chairs are red lacquered metal and plywood. Above the couch, a wall-mounted Serge Mouille-designed light fixture in metal is a clear feature. This has two articulated arms, which light both night and reading spaces, and a softly cupped lampshade. Taking centre stage in the room is a striking Quisisana ceiling lamp by Ettore Sottsass, in blocks of white and primary colours and with interesting curved and angled lines. “This lamp changed the whole perspective of the room when we installed it above the elliptical Eames table, and this incredible design gives energy and strength, too. It’s a very rare first edition,” says Wiart. Needless to say, the whole apartment seems to be… a very rare and unique edition.