Low-Key Luxury - Architecture/Design/Art
Iin photo, Emil Humbert e Christophe Poyet a AD Intérieurs 2019

BY Valentina Lonati

In collaboration with Luce di Carrara, the Monegasque studio Humbert & Poyet has designed a bathroom with a neoclassical touch, for the occasion of AD Intérieurs, a yearly event organized by AD France. They have cemented their concept of discreet luxury with spaces conceived with grace and refinement, something that has been achieved perfectly with this project.

Every process of metamorphosis presupposes fluidity, whether it is material or conceptual. Imagine a dance from a ‘before’ to an ‘after’, which in the specific case of design is expressed through elements that carry the concept of transformism. In September 2019, AD Intérieurs (the event organized every year by Architectural Digest France on the occasion of Maison & Objet and Paris Design Week), celebrated its tenth edition with an exhibition set up within the Hôtel de Coulanges in Paris, dedicated precisely to the theme of metamorphosis. An almost prophetic theme, if observed with today’s eyes. To be precise, thirteen architects and designers were asked to interpret the imagery linked to the transition, through the design of environments capable of narrating the encounter - in its highest form - between design and craftsmanship.

Among the participants in the exhibition was the duo Humbert & Poyet, formed by the architects Emil Humbert and Christophe Poyet. Their partnership was born in 2008 between Montecarlo and Paris and has given life over the years to something they call “Low-key luxury architecture”. Spaces designed with care and elegance, interpreters of a whispered luxury, conceived for everyday life. With an ambition: to evoke moods, thoughts and ideas. “During the development of our projects, the discussion always revolves around the application of an idea. The way we complement each other is at the basis of everything we do, and it ensures that we create a space exactly as we had imagined it”, explains Christophe Poyet. In their Monegasque studio or in the Parisian office, Emil Humbert and Christophe Poyet design with a light stroke private interiors, shops, hotels and restaurants all over the world. Uniting their projects is a constant dialogue between sinuosity and rigour, between maximalism and minimalism, this gives rise to a contained, almost discreet opulence, which is manifested in the calibrated choice of the colour palette - gold, bronze, pastels, black - and materials - brass, wood, stone. The main inspiration is always the French Art Deco, to which are added references to the great designers and architects of the twentieth century, to Le Corbusier, to the Bauhaus, to Giò Ponti. The concept of time, in their interiors, is evanescent: epochs and historical references merge, creating eclectic, whimsical settings that are in all cases, however, balanced.

The same approach was adopted for the AD Intérieurs exhibition: here, Humbert & Poyet have brought the idea of metamorphosis to life through a bathroom with neoclassical accents, inspired by the architecture of the Palladian villas but immersed in a suspended dimension. The dichotomy between the austerity of the geometries and the roundness of the lines materializes in the two central elements of the space they designed: the sculptural bathtub made from a large block of Verde Alpi marble, by Luce di Carrara, and the shower worked like a bronze cage, erected on its marble base. If the former imposes itself with full volumes and the intense tone of the veins, the latter almost seems to take flight by twisting on itself. They are two almost theatrical scenic elements, the maximum expression of the French duo’s aesthetics. At the origin of both, the metamorphic process from which marble flows: the transformation of sedimentary rocks, the recrystallization of calcium carbonate, the formation of crystalline calcite. We thus return to the fil rouge of the exhibition: the metamorphosis, represented perfectly by marble. And we go further: in the hands of Humbert & Poyet, stone becomes a docile and malleable matter, contributing to the definition of a metaphysical yet dense, real place. A stage awaiting the start of the show.

To reinforce the idea of symmetry, something that was central in the structure of the Palladian villas, are the arch-shaped niches in which the velvet-covered benches and the freestanding sink in Statuario Altissimo marble, also by Luce di Carrara, were set in a tribute to the shapes of neoclassical fountains. It is pure and compact marble, with limited production. In the design of the space, the reference to Giorgio De Chirico’s metaphysical painting is evident: Humbert & Poyet play with the scale, the proportions and the classic references to draw a scenography on the edge of reality. Again, everything merges and gets confused. “Our goal is to translate a complex atmosphere into a three-dimensional space”, they say. A three-dimensionality that seems to transcend reality to land in the universe of imagination, where the materiality of the elements - marble, bronze, velvet - loses consistency becoming, as was mentioned previously, fluid.

Marmo 9, pag 17

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