In Bath With </br> Jean-Louis Deniot
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In Bath With
Jean-Louis Deniot
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Aside from his dashing good looks and readiness to be photographed in the buff, Jean-Louis Deniot wasn’t an obvious choice for our popular new In Bath With series as a man who - by his own admission - only takes a bath around once a year. (Fear not, his shower gets regular usage - or make that showers; the globetrotting interior decorator has homes in Paris, Miami, Morocco, the South of Spain and Los Angeles.) 

For our shoot we chose the extra special setting of the his country house in a quaint little village near Chantilly, north of Paris and a hop away from Charles-de-Gaulle airport, making it an ultra practical location for the dizzyingly busy talent who is juggling projects in 20 different cities in 15 different countries, from Moscow to South Africa.

A handsome new-edition freestanding tub by Jacob Delafon takes pride of place in the home’s master bathroom, finished with gleaming old-school taps by Volevatch in polished nickel. “It gives the impression that it’s always been like this,” said Jean-Louis before pouring himself a glass of Ruinart, shedding his clothes and jumping in. 

 
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The entrance hall at Jean-Louis' country house
Photo by Vincent Thibert
 

ESENSUAL LIVING: Do you spend a lot of time in the bathroom?

JEAN-LOUIS DENIOT: No. What I love about the weekend is putting on a pair of sweatpants for the whole weekend and waiting right up until the last minute on Sunday night to finally take a shower. That’s the irony…

EL: So despite having this dreamy bathtub you never take baths?

JLD: Never - or maybe once a year when it’s really cold outside. I like to light the fire, set up a table next to the bath with a glass of wine - or a bottle of wine is even better.

EL: I love the oil painting on the mantelpiece...

JLD: I like bathrooms to be as least bathroom-y as possible. I’m doing the house next door, an old 17th century manor with 10 guest bedrooms and bathrooms, and I’m going much further. All the cabinetry will be made from antique cabinets we sourced from markets. The mirrors and wall lights are vintage. You have wallpaper, a painting, a rug, an armchair, a chandelier… So you still have the shower, the sink, the loo, the tub, but they are not that predominant. The bathroom becomes a real continuity of the bedroom, and I love that.

EL: Here the palette is neutral, but you have a great sense of colour. What kind of palette are you into right now?

JLD: I like the bastard tones, like it’s not a blue, it’s not a green; it’s not a purple, it’s not a lilac; it’s not an aubergine or it’s not a navy blue. I like when the colours are very weird and kind of half tones because when you start hanging something on top something happens.

EL: What kinds of materials are you into for bathrooms?

JLD: Since the beginning I was against tiles and now it’s the opposite. Now I’m getting rid of the marble in most of the projects and starting to do tiled bathrooms – glazed, crackled, very crafty. I custom order from places like Portugal and Spain - very modern tiling but using old techniques, abstract designs inspired by Azulejos. 

EL: Is the Internet an important tool for research?

JLD: If you start a project with visuals, you restrict yourself so I like to start with lists; I like to write down components like finishes or colours.

El: So what’s a typical list?

JLD: I keep them all in my phone - they’re all there, I have it backed up. For example, for the house I’m doing near here I wrote down that I want to do an Indian room, a Turkish room, a Moroccan room, a Chinese room. Then it was a mix of castle, old-world, Forties, Fifties, Sixties and contemporary. Just keywords…

EL: You seem to be a bit of a clubber judging by the ambient tunes pumping out of the surround sound system in here. Do you like to indulge in a spot of pampering before going out? 

JLD: No. In-out.

EL: But you have a lot of candles in here, so you like to set a cosy mood?

JLD: Yes, I think what you touch, what you smell and what you listen to are just as important as what you see.

EL: What’s the most incredible bathroom you’ve ever been in?

JLD: At Rajvilas in Jaipur they have those giant tents and inside each tent you literally have this kind of bathroom, with a freestanding tub…I’ve been working in Delhi since around 15 years, and when I have time I always try to escape for a weekend in Jaipur.

EL: Where does your talent for interior design come from?

JLD: I’m not sure. I was always drawn to the idea of being able to create different kinds of universes, the flexibility of being able to jump from one specific story and world to another, so life is less flat. It’s interesting when you can create atmospheres from A to Z.

EL: So you don’t have any creative talent in your family?

JLD: No, no, no. And that’s probably the reason I was highly motivated - because it was so butt ugly someone had to fix it! [laughs]

EL: Tell us about one of your most interesting projects.

JLD: Coco Chanel built a house in 1925 in the South of France, La Pausa. Chanel has just acquired it and has hired me to design it. Nothing’s really changed from how Chanel had it at the time; construction-wise nothing has been spoilt. It’s about recreating the house as Chanel would have had it but without making it a period house; making it comfortable and welcoming like a Chanel embassy. What I love is that there’s a real story behind it when generally it’s Mr & Mrs Smith buying a house in New York City and you have to create the story from A-Z. 

In-bath-with-jean-louis-deniot In-bath-with-jean-louis-deniot
A view of Jean-Louis Deniot's country home
Photo by Vincent Thibert
 

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