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Urban Living, Portraits of Style Visionaries
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At Esensual Living, we are inspired by how architects and interior designers are innovatively redefining how we live and relate to our city lives. Big cities have evolved to become architectural and design wonders, a melding of contemporary creations and reinterpreted historical sites. From skyline apartments to old factories and warehouses converted into spacious lofts, this creative process couldn’t happen without the talent and foresight of our Style Visionaries who, forever resourceful and original, are committed to bringing a new dynamic to urban lifestyle.

In responding to our four key questions, this month’s Style Visionaries invite us to their own city dwellings and unveil some of their exceptional realisations, demonstrating how design challenges regenerate big cities.

1. What is your design ethos for a unique urban space?

2. Do you have any preferred urban home textiles that you favour using for your residential projects?

3. What is your idea of an urban (big city) heavenly space?

4. Which part of a city’s cultural history inspires your work?

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A Limousin
 

AGNES COMAR

Agnès Comar has revolutionized the codes of interior decoration. Be it yachts, Marrakech palaces, Gstaad chalets or polo clubs in Argentina, her passion for textiles has gained her a unique positioning on the global design scene, always using the approach of a design laboratory rather than a straight forward design studio.

She loves amazing colour combinations and unexpected mixes that bring together raw, sophisticated fabrics and contemporary, rustic materials.

Based out of Paris, Agnès opens the doors to the classical Paris apartment that she transformed into the spectacular loft she lives in today, a perfect introduction to her timeless and unique approach to decoration.

 

 

1. What is your design ethos for a unique urban space? Mixing objects, timelessness, light and colour.

2. Do you have any preferred urban home textiles that you favour using for your residential projects? Velvet cushions from Caravane, cotton or silk satin and wool and cashmere from Kajaal.

3. What is your idea of an urban (big city) heavenly space? The “Grand Aquarium” at the Trocadéro and the Palais Royal in Paris, the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

4. Which part of a city’s cultural history inspires your work? The Louvre is a great source of inspiration because of its amazing collections, encompassing the world’s civilizations. I am also interested in how it organizes spectacular temporary exhibitions where contemporary artists show their work in the museum’s rooms.

 

www.agnescomar.com

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JF Jaussaud/Lux Productions
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Miguel Chevalier
Pascal Maillard
 

Miguel Chevalier

Famed Mexican French digital artist Miguel Chevalier has shifted his focus from the computer screen to projecting his complex universes on to the cityscape. He created a major sensation in Mexico recently where his latest work “The Origin of the World,” was projected on the façade of the Bellas Artes Museum.

Millions of viewers visited over four days to immerse themselves within a sort of “artificial paradise” where cells and microorganisms were proliferating, dividing and merging, at a sometimes slow, sometimes furious pace, oscillating from black and white to psychedelic colour. Paris welcomes him in March for Art Paris, where he will transform the front of the Grand Palais into a fascinating garden of ever moving shapes. Miguel works and lives in Paris where, along with his wife Renata, he has converted an electric domestic appliances factory into a magnificent living space where they show work from their favorite designers and artists.

 

1. What is your design ethos for a unique urban space? 
The possibility to transform our environment through immaterial and poetic interventions. These interventions are a way to redesign parts of a city, without having to intervene on its structure itself.

2. Do you have any preferred urban home textiles that you favour using for your residential projects? 
For a residential space, I always favour bold colours in artisan fabrics, such as Hainsworth’s Livid blanket and cushions. Tapestries are the most exciting textiles for an urban space. They have a tridimensional dimension that comes alive in the evening through video projections.

3. What is your idea of an urban (big city) heavenly space? 
My idea is to create spaces where viewers can immerse themselves inside virtual gardens. People will have access to a unique multi sensorial experience within an immaterial universe that transforms itself overtime.

4. Which part of a city’s cultural history inspires your work? 
I find particularly fascinating the atypical, original, courageous and now iconic architectural interventions like the Eiffel Tower, the Centre Pompidou by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the Guggenheim in Bilbao by Frank Gehry or the MUCEM in Marseilles by Rudy Ricciotti. Often loudly criticized while they were being built, they didn’t take long to become symbols of their city.

 

www.miguel-chevalier.com

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Mexico City
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Elliott Barnes
Michel Crotto
 

Elliott Barnes

Architect Elliott Barnes could easily have made his way as a jazz musician, but instead embraced the world of interior design.

A brilliant bass player, passionate about jazz and armed with a BA in Architecture and Urbanism from Cornell University, Elliot settled in Paris in 1987, when Andrée Putman invited him to join Ecart S.A. where he eventually became director.

In 2004 he founded Elliott Barnes Interiors, designing upscale private residences, hotels, retail spaces, spas and institutional spaces across the world, showcasing his purist aesthetics and natural affinity for minimalism.

Twice named by AD France as one of the most talented interior designers of his generation, in 2008 and 2013, Elliott simultaneously pursues an academic career, teaching at universities in the US and France.

Known for clean lines warmed with unexpected interplays of textures and contemporary art and design, Elliott takes us through a fabulous gallery-residential space, illustrating to perfection his masterly approach to urban lifestyle.

 

1. What is your design ethos for a unique urban space? There is a term in German “luxus ist raum”. I find this a relevant point of entry for a discussion about interior spaces in a traditional urban context. Density is the fundamental nature of traditional urban texture. This texture directly influences the structure of the interior environment by creating dense traditional spaces; as opposed to say a modern city which promotes a less dense urban texture and thus logically allows for less dense interior spaces. Under the theme of “luxus ist raum”, translated to luxury is space, I approach each interior situation in Paris by wondering how to reconcile the traditional interior texture of the spaces I encounter with a modern spatial solution that accepts a contemporary life. The idea is to open up the interior as much as possible, to create a fluid movement from one space to the next, and to create interior perspectives. This is the backbone upon which everything else is built.

2. Do you have any preferred urban home textiles that you favour using for your residential projects? I really like to use silks, bamboo fibers and cashmeres. Some high density weave linens are nice as well. I feel that urban home textiles must be exquisitely soft and sensual.

3. What is your idea of an urban (big city) heavenly space? In many ways the most unusual and unique urban space is the roof top landscape. My dream is to find the roof top of a building in Paris and build a “case study house” inspired flat, with terrace and pool of course!

4. Which part of a city’s cultural history inspires your work? Well each city’s cultural history is unique. And so it really depends upon where you are. However there is a common denominator in each city that had a strong 19th century urban development that speaks to me personally; that is the role of the immigrant. The dynamic infused by, either partially or fully assimilated, foreign cultures, rituals and traditions in each city’s history, accounts for its layered cultural specificity and the depth of its visual panorama. At another level, they forcibly play into and influence the urban interior landscape. As someone who is himself an immigrant (though still bicultural) I have a unique sense of the richness this “aïmaï” (ambiguity en Japanese) and the duality it brings to the interior spaces I frequent and inhabit.
 
 
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JF Jaussaud/Lux Productions
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Cliff Fong
Noëlle Thurin
 

CLIFF FONG

If one had to define Cliff Fong in a few words, the “ultimate cosmopolitan decorator” comes to mind.  Born in Brooklyn and raised around the globe, Cliff’s eclectic vision is borne from a multitude of experiences. A former fashion buyer and stylist with a background in fine arts, he worked for several luxury brands before starting his own design studio in Los Angeles, Matt Blacke Inc. In his gallery Galerie Half, Cliff shows a mix of 20th century design, antiques, architectural elements and art, a perfect showcase to present his favourite “exercise de style,” how to articulate design and period pieces from all over, which has made him popular with celebrities such as Ryan Murphy, Balthazar Getty and James Franco.  He designs modern, yet sophisticated urban residential spaces that feel wonderfully lived in. His own apartment in Los Angeles reflects his love for comfortable and elegant city spaces.

 

1. What is your design ethos for a unique urban space? 
It’s important for me to look at every project as a new and unique experience.  Each space and each client has a special character, interest, and personality to share.  I like designing within the soul of each space, to express whatever is necessary; to create something special.   This often involves mixing items from different regions and eras so that they feel new and fresh, sometimes even ironic, but at the same time honouring the inherent identity of the structure itself.  

2. Do you have any preferred urban home textiles that you favour using for your residential projects? 
I like natural, warm, soft, organic materials like washed linens, cottons, cashmere etc.   Then vintage or antique embroidered pieces for accent.

3. What is your idea of an urban (big city) heavenly space? 
I love a lot of the large factory spaces built pre World War II in Paris.  Many of them are now restaurants and retail stores, or have even been converted into homes.  So many of them have such great natural light.   They benefit from all of the innovations borne out of the early years of the industrial revolution, meanwhile possessing an incredible sense of elegance.  They can be as beautiful and intricate as the Eiffel Tower, or the Musée d’Orsay.

4. Which part of a city’s cultural history inspires your work? 
Since my education is in fine art, I often use what I know about a city's art history as a departure point.   In fact, the oldest structures in a city are generally my favourite because they are the starting point of everything that follows. It's this sense of progression that helps inform and shape my process.

 

www.mattblackeinc.com

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Mary Nichols
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TRISTAN AUER
Frédéric De Gasquet
 

TRISTAN AUER

Designer Tristan Auer is one of the rising stars of interior architecture, working with some of today’s most influential names, including Nina Ricci and Karl Lagerfeld.  From major residential projects to prestigious city landmarks, among Tristan’s notable commissions are the renovation of Coco Chanel’s apartment on rue Cambon, the Hôtel Crillon in Paris, the Hôtel de Paris in Monaco and the world famous Parisian nightclub, les Bains Douches, which Auer is turning into a stunning hotel lounge due to open later this year.

Also a renowned furniture and lighting designer, Tristan cultivates a highly graphic classicism and rigorous aesthetics, redefining an engaging, interior luxury that is both beautiful and livable.

For Esensual Living, he unveils a glamorous 600 sqm apartment that he recently completed in collaboration with Frédéric Sicard.

1. What is your design ethos for a unique urban space? 
To keep in harmony with the surroundings. Taking into account the architectural, cultural and sensory aspects of a place. Sometimes the view from an apartment set the tone for the entire décor.

2. Do you have any preferred urban home textiles that you favour using for your residential projects? 
I am obsessed with Le Manach fabrics, their Coffee Bean weave pattern is simply mouthwatering! And, of course, pristine bed linen from Lissoy, where you can create your own combinations by clipping two panels together.

3. What is your idea of an urban (big city) heavenly space? 
I love contrasts, like a tiny park set amongst skyscrapers bringing a poetic pause to the energy of big city life.

4. Which part of a city’s cultural history inspires your work? 
Without entirely leaving it to fate, I always like to provoke new experiences. That is when the unexpected occurs in an inspiring natural manner.

www.tristanauer.com

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Frédéric De Gasquet

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