F amous for their artistry in reinterpreting the past, the Milanese duo, Roberto Peregalli and Laura Sartori Rimini, are responsible for the decoration of the magnificent Parisian pied-à-terre, whose furniture is now being auctioned in the upcoming De Lisbonne à Paris : Deux intérieurs parisiens sale. Here they describe how they honoured the building's history at the same time as introducing their own style aesthetic.
How did this project come about?
The apartment had to be completely redone. It had been decorated in the 1970s, with carpeting on the walls... When we stripped everything down, we found some traces of mouldings, and from there we started to reflect on a place that was a bit historical, but with our own mind set. The basis was solid: the building is Haussmannian, with a beautiful view of the Seine and Notre-Dame.
Did the client have something particular in mind?
It was a pied-à-terre for an Italian family and the husband was passionate about the project. He is someone who loves France and French literature. That's why we decided to evoke the Paris of Balzac. He is also a collector of 18th and 19th century portraits, so there we were really able to work together. As soon as we saw something in an antique shop or auction that could fit into our project, we would point it out to him and he would often buy it. For example, at the sale of the Palais Abbatial de Royaumont we found both sécretaire and paintings.
For the living room, we started with old panelling that we had found in an antique shop. We painted it a patina grey-green and had the corresponding glass doors made in Italy. The same goes for the dining room, which we dressed in wood panelling with leather inserts. It's late 17th century, but it fits in well with what we wish to evoke, with the ceiling light and 19th century furniture. We are not trying to make “period rooms”, our reconstitutions are not faithful, we integrate the charm, the dream, and the poetry. We offer an interpretation. Here, it is Balzac who is looking back! This is why you will also find a large Louis XV bureau plat or a pair of Louis XVI mahogany bookcases. We seek to reinvent the past.
An approach that you had already used for Pierre Bergé's apartment?
Pierre Bergé's apartment was more solemn, but it's true that he wanted a French atmosphere as seen by Italians. With patina and not too much gilding. He gave us carte blanche, but he also had many objects to install. We completed them with things we suggested, like the chandeliers in the library, a pair of consoles, the Chinese birds, the rugs. A foreigner's pied-à-terre in Paris is different from the home of a major French collector.
It's a place where he doesn’t live all year round, so it can be a little more "decorated", but as soon as he opens the door, he should feel immediately in Paris.
When you look back at the photos of this pied-à-terre, what are you most proud of?
We are very happy with the harmony of the whole, the intimate atmosphere that fills the rooms; it is the result of this perfect agreement with the client. The years have passed and yet it is not dated. We also have the satisfaction that this apartment sold quickly because the buyer liked the decor, which, by the way, he is keeping. That is a form of recognition.