Agence DL-M Sets a Left Bank Paris Apartment on a Colorful New Course
In recent years, interior designer Damien Langlois-Meurinne has worked on a series of Paris apartments that enjoy mind-blowing views. The dining room of one flat close to Place du Trocadéro is in direct axis with the Eiffel Tower. Another sits atop a hill in the city’s 16th arrondissement and offers sweeping vistas of almost all the French capital’s monuments, extending to Notre-Dame in the distance. Yet none of them has such a direct link to the Seine as this 3,500-square-foot four-bedroom located right on the river’s Left Bank. Look through the trees to the right and you see the Louvre; to the left, the Place de la Concorde. On July 26, 2024, its fourth-floor windows will no doubt be a privileged perch: That is the day earmarked for the opening ceremony of the Paris Olympics, when some 10,500 athletes will sail past on boats from the Pont d’Austerlitz to the Pont d’Iéna.
The project stands out for another reason, too. Since setting up his own practice, Agence DL-M, back in 2003, Langlois-Meurinne has displayed a gift for reworking floor plans and spatial volumes. Often, he’ll gut an apartment and start things over completely from scratch. For a recent commission, he even had to remove a 215-square-foot swimming pool that had been installed, rather incongruously, on the fifth floor of a typical Haussmannian building.
There are, however, exceptions to every rule, and this project, for an art-collecting couple from the Middle East, was one of them. “For once, there was a natural balance to the existing layout,” Langlois-Meurinne recalls. “I didn’t really change much apart from connecting the primary bedroom to the adjoining bathroom.” The new birch-clad portal between the two is particularly deep. “It gives the space a sense of protection and intimacy,” Langlois-Meurinne notes. He also modified the shape of the walls in the kitchen, replacing jagged angles with enveloping curves.
What was lacking, though, was much in the way of architectural personality; the space was almost completely devoid of historical elements. So, Langlois-Meurinne designed new ones largely inspired by the Art Deco style of the 1920s and ’30s. He installed wainscoting and cornices in the large double sitting room as well as a host of elements in staff, a type of plaster he particularly loves working with. “It’s extremely supple and allows you to create rounded forms more easily than you can with wood or marble,” Langlois-Meurinne explains. The material was used to create the sculptural fireplace that anchors one end of the living space, the ribbed walls in the entry hall, and the domed ceiling in the dining room, among other details.
The rest of the decor is typical of Langlois-Meurinne’s style, from the strong axes to the integration of niches and alcoves to the bronze door frames that help structure the space. In many of his projects, the designer favors generously proportioned hallways. “For me, they’re essential,” he says. “They’re the backbone of a flat and need to be lively and have their very own personality.” Bestowing visual impact in the main hall, which serves as a gallery, is a mesmerizing moonlike work in bright red by Dutch artist Corine van Voorbergen. Langlois-Meurinne also created a rhythmic pattern on the floor below by insetting the Tundra Gray marble slabs with brass bands arranged in a syncopated fashion. “Their reflections help bring light to the heart of the apartment,” he says.
Light was a concern in the primary bathroom due to an absence of windows. The striking Panda White marble floor, which Langlois-Meurinne compares to a contemporary artwork, helps to distract attention from the fact. “The veining is very dynamic,” he says, “almost like an India ink drawing.” The designer also installed a plaster ceiling dome above the tub, into which he recessed indirect lighting. “When it’s switched on, it becomes quite immaterial and conjures the sensation of a light well or skylight,” he declares.
For aficionados of Langlois-Meurinne’s work, the color palette throughout the apartment may come as something of a surprise. He has long accustomed us to cooler tones, marked by a predilection for shades of blue. “I have a very strong attachment to the sea and the Mediterranean,” he says, explaining that he spent many a childhood vacation in the Cyclades of Greece. Here, however, he decided to play with warmer tones. The walls of the dining room were painted a pale salmon hue, and a monochromatic orange acrylic on canvas—Circus Peanut, by the art collective Henry Codax—dominates one end of the living room. “I don’t know where the inspiration came from,” Langlois-Meurinne admits. “I guess it’s a question of desire, of simply wanting to try out something a little different.”
- Agence DL-M
- Allied Maker
- Art Deco
- Barbara Lormelle
- Christophe Delcourt
- Circa Lighting
- Creativ Light
- Galerie Hussenot, Galerie Greta Meert, Galerie Filles du Calvaire, Galerie Scéne Ouverte, Galerie Maison Rapin
- HK Living
- Ian Phillips
- Karen Swami
- Lorenzo Castillo
- Marc Uzan
- Mark Alexander
- Nicholas Haslam
- Porta Romana
- Stephan Julliard
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