Sculpture and Streamlining in this Parisian Apartment

Apartment XIV is one of the most recent renovation projects of the French architecture company Studio Razavi, founded by double Master’s degree holder in architecture Alireza Razavi. This is a company that embraces the balance between refined style and a highly functional arrangement, all the while remaining sensitive and faithful to the spirit of the original project space. With Apartment XIV, they have turned the original 150 year old Haussmanian apartment with its rigid, defined structure and classical Parisian layout, into a stylised and sophisticated space, re-invigorating and modernising the potential of the original 80 m² site.

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“When designing these units we tried to find a balance between separating spaces and allowing for a visual relation between them. We never do historicist designs, but do try to maintain memories and traces of the space’s history”, architect Guillen Berniolles said in reference to Studio Razavi’s architectural approach.

Using Valchromat wood fiber panels to redesign and disrupt the rigidity of the initial space, the architectural collective have created a whole different domestic landscape. With a loft space for guests tucked above the bathroom, and a combination of subtle and intense shades of metallic grey in simplified patterns, the apartment has an atmosphere of the sort of integrated practicality and understated, streamlined style seen in the utopian interior design of science-fiction apartments.

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We got in touch with the studio to hear about the planning and execution of this sculptural, challenging space.

The Plus: What materials did you choose for the apartment and why?
Guillen Berniolles:
All millwork is wood fiber panels by Valchromat. We selected fiber panels because they were not only compatible with the project budget, but also because they allow for a great flexibility of use (field cutting, on-site finishes and repairs made easy), offer a variety of colors, and can be easily repaired after being scratched. The fiber panels are the main project feature. The kitchen backsplash is a marble patchwork of smaller pieces of leftover stone found at a marble quarry in Portugal.

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TP: How do you picture domestic life interacting with the space?
“A place for everything and everything in its place”. The millwork has been designed step by step with the clients and according to their specific needs (they had a detailed list!).There is a dedicated location for the oversized sheets of paper used by art students, a specific space with a power outlet for the i-roomba vacuum cleaner under the totem, and a specific location for all DVD player and Playstation cabling. The central piece of furniture is a (not so little) custom made jewel box.

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TP: What was the thinking behind your choice of colour scheme?
Colour is used to increase contrast between the existing space and our project. We conducted different tests through 3D renderings, provided product samples to clients, and gave them time to think about it. Even though their initial preference was for a more colourful design, they realized that in the long term this limited the viability of hanging art and selecting accessories. In the end, both our preference and theirs was for a more neutral-dark hue.

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TP: Why did you decide to include a ladder rather than traditional stairs?
The ladder can be stored hanging from the sleeping loft, saving space and becoming a decorative feature. It also adds a playful character to this space.

TP: What relationship does your design have with the Parisian architecture?
We love traditional Parisian architecture, and as we are used to it we can quickly read the story behind the building. It also gives us a context to which we can react.

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TP: Combining tradition and disruption is a fruitful design choice; is this a direction you are pursuing in your other design projects?
Depending on the program and client we don’t always have the opportunity to produce so strong a contrast as in this project, but our renovations are always contemporary. We also play with contrast and disruption in other ways. For example: In our “La Parisienne” project our design – warm and cosy with wood and felt – stands in contrast with the cold and functional shell in which the project was located.

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