Monday, August 1, 2011

Designer I Admire: Paris designer Jean-Louis Deniot

French Classical Interior Design for the Modern World

Come with me to see Jean-Louis Deniot’s chic new Paris interiors:  In my new conversation with the cosmopolitan designer, below, we see inside the creative mind of an extraordinary design talent.

I first met French interior designer Jean-Louis Deniot in Chantilly more than a dozen years ago. Fresh out of architecture school, he had opened his design firm and already had a top-level roster of clients.

Today he works for ultra-private clients around the world, including elegant families in Delhi, the Hotel Recamier in Paris, real estate moguls around the Mediterranean, an executive in Kiev, Americans in Paris, a family in Caracas, and art collectors in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago.

From the start, his work demonstrated a worldliness, freshness, sophistication, vision, and a sense of scale and harmony I’d usually expect from a seasoned designer like Jacques Grange.

I wrote about Jean-Louis on THE STYLE SALONISTE last year, and now he is one of the most popular subjects on my blog, a search-engine favorite.

He is also one of my absolute favorite designers—the kind of highly professional and creative talent that comes along once in a generation.

I’ve spent time in many of the interiors by Jean-Louis, and each is highly individual, but they all display flawless design judgment.

The last time I had a coup de foudre for a refined sense of composition and exquisite sense of color, and an innate sense of harmony in a room, was in the work of the extraordinary California designer John Dickinson, my mentor and now the design insiders’ favorite.

Jean-Louis Deniot:  Come with me for an exclusive encounter with this truly exceptional designer.

His career has taken off because he works closely with his clients to create their dreams. They like working with him so much they quickly acquire a new plane or a new property or open new headquarters, or find an island house, a pied-a-terre, to keep him close and continue a rewarding relationship.

One week I’ll hear from him en route to Moscow (new client), and the following week he is in transit from Capri to Delhi. After an update from India, he’ll email me en route to a photo shoot in Chicago or Monaco. He was recently named one of the top designers in the world by AD France.

Below is a chat we had recently so that you may discover his favorite paint and fabrics, his newest design discoveries, his beloved music and places, his travel tips. You will love his insight.

This new apartment is on the Left Bank in Paris.

It’s a renovation—that now looks like an 18th-century hotel particulier—that has been superbly updated.

It has all the hallmarks of his design: polish, comfort, classic proportions, contemporary art mixed in with antiques, and a sexy, seductive air that’s totally inviting.

Timeless, chic, tranquil, current but never trendy, and luxe but light, his interior architecture and decor look effortless.

“For Jean-Michel Frank, luxury was in simplicity. Simplicity dictated the forms and substance of his luxury. He loved the unobtrusiveness of true elegance.” –Jean Cocteau in a tribute to Jean-Michel Frank

Paris apartment: It’s every Francophile’s dream to have an 18th-century apartment in a stone building on the Left Bank in Paris.

This newly completed apartment is on the left Bank, near the church of Saint-Sulpice, and close to all the best pastry shops.

This luxury private apartment is a mix between French 18th century and a more contemporary 20th century style.

As the apartment was traditionally French, the major construction issues were to eliminate excessive corridors and service passages and installing large double doors to create more of a sense of openness.

The dining and living rooms have been enlarged, and the walls and ceilings detailed with plaster moldings fashioned after the original existing ones.

The main goal, said Deniot, was to insure that despite all the changes and renovations, the apartment still kept its French 18th century feel. This was achieved by correcting the aesthetic and functional imperfections—r
evising awkward room layouts and rearranging doors and interior walls, he said.

The bedrooms, walk-in closets and bathrooms were renovated in the same fashion as the reception rooms, featuring limestone and blue Turquin (the preferred marble of Louis XVI), distressed mirrors, Versailles parquet, 18th century fire places, and replica of the original crown mouldings.

Hidden electronics (Hi-Fi and Wi-Fi), an air conditioning system (rare in Paris), an other modern updates, were also installed.

“My clients wanted a sense of French history and style throughout the apartment,” said Deniot. “They preferred to decorate in a 20th century style, but with a sense that the collection had been gathered over years, not months.”

Deniot is a totally hands-on designer, and he has skilled teams of architects in house. The company’s business director is his younger sister, Virginie.

While the construction and renovation was taking place, antiques specialists gathered a collection of classic French, Italian, and English furniture, lighting and decorative objects by Gilbert Poillerat, Arbus, Jacques Adnet , Royère, Venini glass, Giacometti furniture, R. Subes, David Hicks (antiquites), A. Carlhian, Jean-Michel Frank, Couturier, and Jansen, Serge Roche, and other classics.

Vintage pieces took priority. Dramatic gilt bronze sculptures by French artist/designer Hervé van der Straeten gallery as well design by Deniot add vibrancy and richness to the elegant mix.

A series of opulent vintage lamps from various flea markets were acquired.

Colors through the apartment include black and white, taupe, grey, and subtle cream and beige. Note the custom embroidery, the gorgeous silk velvet banquette in the curved window, the beautifully detailed pillows, but everything very subtle, low-key, all superbly modulated.

The clients are collectors of contemporary art. The result is an apartment which is French casual chic.

The interiors—dramatic, fresh, spacious, timeless, and playful—will still have power and grace in ten or twenty years.

A Chat with Jean-Louis Deniot: Let’s get inside his head

DDS: Five all-time favorite paint colors?
Paint from the Couleurs Historiques collection by Ressource.

The paint is very heavily pigmented and the best quality. It’s very thick and the brushstrokes remain visible after application. The result is very deep, just like an Yves Klien monochrome. I love all shades of gray, blues, greens, pinks and taupes.

DDS: The most versatile, basic fabric?
I frequently use ‘Toile de Tours’ by Georges Le Manach. It is a thick woven cotton that is very dry and also slightly spongy. The interesting aspect of this material is that you can partially customize it using one of 50 available patterns and woven with your own color palette. The pattern can range from traditional, textured or contemporary. I like it when a material is so versatile that it can be used in every project yet never look the same.

DDS: New textile you love?
I love Sabina Fay Braxton’s fabric collection. It is as rustic as it is rich featuring rough cotton bases, soft textured chenille with abstract motifs and bronze accents. Super chic! They work equally as well on a Louis XVI armchair as they would on a Vladimir Kagan sofa!

DDS: Favorite restaurant/cafe in Paris?
Bistro de Paris anytime. It’s near my studio. Sometimes I go as often as four times a week! It is a traditional French bistro with great food, great atmosphere, good service, and nice owners! I always have whatever is in season. (33 rue de Lille, near rue du Bac).

DDS: Favorite place for escape?

JLD: I’ve recently discovered Tangiers, Morocco and have decided that it is pure paradise! No wonder Yves Saint Laurent spent half his life there, escaping Paris as often as possible to go to Tangiers. I would like to own property there. My dream: an ocean-front house with a large lush garden. Sea-view rooms with lighting, carpets, fabrics, and furnishings all designed by myself and manufactured by local craftsmen.

DDS: Favorite hotel in the world?
I haven’t designed it yet. Just like everything else, I can’t have just one favorite but several. I love the Oberoi Rajvilas in Jaipur for its gorgeous landscaping and setting. The JK Place in Capri feels like a very sophisticated beach house from the 60’s. The Four Seasons in Bora Bora as rooms are floating on the lagoon. The Amanjena in Marrakech for the sense of giant space and privacy. The Connaught in London feels so luxurious, and it is as chic as it is laid back.

DDS: What's on your iPod?

JLD: I have a very eclectic taste in music. At the moment I have some soul, Nina Simone ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’, some classical music, Bach ‘Prelude and Fugue in C Major’, some electro pop, Empire Under The Sun, ‘Walking On A Dream’, some Indian music, Appa ‘Badmarsh and Shri’, some more electro, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour ‘Push the Envelope’ finally ‘Fireworks’ by my dear friend Katy Perry.

DDS: Favorite movie of all time?
My favorite movie has to be ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses’ directed by Stephen Frears, obviously! The décor, costumes, actors, make-up, candles, period furnishing make it such a beautiful picture!

My favourite TV show is ‘Mad Men’. I enjoy the visuals of the show and the characters are gorgeous, I love Miss Holloway (Christina Hendricks), and the decors are so stylish. It’s very pleasing to watch such a fun period/era so well put together.

DDS: Most inspiring design book?
I have two interior design bibles. ‘Architecture Intérieure et Décoration en France des Origines à 1875’ by Jean Feray and also ‘Les Décorateurs des Années 40’ by Bruno Foucart and Jean-Louis Gaillemin.

DDS: Newest design discovery?
Abstract embroidered patterns by Jean-François Lesage. These are amazing embroidered textures with wool, bronze, cotton, silk.. Also, hand painted silk wallpapers and embroidery by Fromental and custom rugs by Fort Street Studio on Broadway, NYC.

Jean-Louis Deniot at Artcurial, Paris

Jean-Louis Deniot is among the top European designers who are participating in the event INTERIEURS 2011 hosted by the magazine AD France and Artcurial auction house. It will take place between the 8th and 22nd of September

Following the success of the first edition of the AD France event in 2010, this second year presented 12 designers paying homage to art in interiors.

The designers: India Mahdavi, Olivia Putman, Roxane Rodriguez, Alain Demachy, François-Joseph Graf, Chahan Minassian, Pierre Yovanovitch, Jean-Louis Deniot, Laurent Buttazzoni & Associés, Joseph Dirand, Tristan Auer, Thierry Lemaire.

Jean-Louis Deniot will be presenting a private art gallery for the exhibition, including a vestibule, gallery and stairway, suggesting a cocooned atmosphere of the true collector. In tones of beige, he reinterprets motifs borrowed from canvases by Sol LeWitt, Bernard Frize and Peter Zimmerman for frescoes, carpet, and fabrics that look graphic but dreamy. Ceiling lights seem like flying saucers. It’s his signature relaxed classicism, mixing styles, and concepts in a silken cameo.

Artcurial, Hotel Marcel Dassault

7 rond-point des Champs-Elysees, Paris

Where to find Jean-Louis Deniot
Jean-Louis Deniot
Architecture, Interior Design, Furnishing
39, rue de Verneuil, Paris (By appointment only)


All photography by Paris-based Xavier Béjot
Used with express permission.


Lynne Rutter said...

this is just making me excited to go back to Paris (in October!) what beautiful rooms.

Anonymous said...

I once worked for an interior designer who had been educated in Paris. Looking at these photos reminded me of her aesthetic. What lovely spaces from what seems to be a charming man.

JWC said...

I've always admired Deniot's style. Polished, refined, and layered. These rooms are timeless...

A Gift Wrapped Life said...

What a lovely post to read on a hot and humid evening. Deniot certainly deserves all his successes as his work is divine.Oh, and it isn't just Francophiles who covert an 18th century stone apartment in the left Bank. Canadians too! If we ever get it, I will be sure to call this talented designer. It does mean we will have to cash in everything we own though! Wonderful post, but they always are in keeping us so informed. I can see how much time and thought goes into each post. XO

Karena said...

Diane, an intriguing and immensely talented young interior designer! Love all of his thoughts and favorite elements in his design work.


Art by Karena

Greet Lefèvre said...

I admire the work of Deniot! He is indeed a very talented designer! I love his style! Gorgeous!Next time I visit Paris, I will definitely take the time to walk in the Hotel Recamier and to have a tea to admire the interior designed by Jean-Louis!

peggy braswell said...

Wonderful insight into a glorious designer. Thank you Diane + Jean-Louis.

The Devoted Classicist said...

I love the shape of the back of the dining chairs, emphasized by the nailhead trim.

*Chic Provence* said...

Perfectly lovely, absolutely everything he does! merci!



Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Friends--near and far!

I love your comments.
I love it when readers say 'if I won the lottery I would hire him' (great compliment), and I love it with stylish friends and readers recognize the exceptional talent of Jean-Lois.
I will be showing more of this work, including the chic interior he will be creating for the ARTCURIAL/ AD exhibit in Paris in September. If you are in Paris for Maison & Objet, be sure to check on this.
cheers and happy reading and discoveries--

Philip Bewley said...

I have returned a number of times to take a look at this...Love his work and this post.

♥ Braja said...

Gosh it hurts my eyes to look at this post, everything is SO beautiful :)

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Hi Philip-

This is such a lovely compliment that you enjoyed it so much. Jean-Louis is fortunate to inherit the history of design in France. His studio is on the Left Bank surrounded by all the top antiques dealer. Still it is his talent, focus, discipline and devotion to his clients that have made him so successful.

Hello, Braja-you are so fortunate to live in India! I have been traveling to /in India since I was a student, and I love it. I was recently in Jaipur (love it) and then headed down to Indore and Maheshwar. Scroll down to see my recent feature on AHILYA FORT...superb and incredible. Spiritually rich and pure and ... and it pierced my heart.
cheers and do stay in touch, DIANE

A Poetry of a Home said...

Dear Diane,

thank you for sharing this french designer with us.
He is new to me and I must say I'm very very impressed by his work...he's truly talented.
It's not often I've seen such a sophisticated interior design with a male touch......must say I love this!

Hope all is well with you,
xx Ingela

Unknown said...

What a lovely post ,designing looks great ,inspiring thing....Hotel Design ..

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Jimmy Mehr said...

Just wish to say your article is astonishing.