For centuries, Lyon, France’s third-largest city, has been famous for the sumptuous silk textiles it produces. Located in the center of the town, near where legions of artisanal looms once hummed, designer Claude Cartier’s apartment evokes the spirit of those fabled fabrics—their luscious colors, bold patterns, and rich textures—but in breezily modern form. Cartier founded her business in 1981, opening a home decorating store that soon led to extensive residential-design commissions and the establishment of her eponymous studio in 2010. Although now a qualified interior designer, Cartier still prefers to define herself as a “decorator,” and the ebullient theatricality of her apartment shows why.
The 1,300-square-foot two-bedroom flat occupies a Haussmannian building in the same historic area as her businesses, a charming district of antiques dealers, galleries, and design shops that she readily admits is “my favorite neighborhood.” She bought the apartment two years ago and immediately embarked on an extensive renovation in collaboration with her studio’s in-house architect Fabien Louvier. “We completely modified the layout, the distribution of spaces,” she reports. “I worked on each part as a scenario with necessarily common threads of architectural character, materials, and color.”
Having worked in the profession for 40 years, Cartier approached the makeover with expected savoir faire. “Of course, my experience as a decorator could only influence this job,” she acknowledges, but adds that the personal nature of the undertaking brought something different to it. “I think I wanted to allow myself even more creative freedom, to consider the project a real playground that would express my personality as closely as possible.”
Two senses of play—as a staged performance and as fun and games—are built into the apartment’s DNA. Cartier created her distinctive mise-en-scène not simply by arranging furnishings and applying finishes in the set of spaces she devised with Louvier but also by inviting a trio of other actors to participate in the production: the Italian furniture maker Tacchini, the French fabric house Métaphores, and the Lyonnaise art consultant Céline Melon Sibille, founder of local gallery Manifesta—all players with strong identities. So, the question for Cartier became how to achieve her own exuberant aesthetic vision through them.
Cartier Showcases Her Sense of Style Throughout the French Apartment
“Inevitably, each piece of furniture was chosen because I had an absolute crush on it,” Cartier begins, “though often it was customized.” A case in point is Jonas Wagell’s Julep sofa, its curving minimalist form dominating one corner of the living room but transformed into some sort of exotic vegetation by Métaphores’s upholstery of abstracted-floral jacquard. The botanical theme is echoed in the opposite corner, which is entirely draped with pale-green velvet curtains that conceal wall shelving and a TV. The fabric’s delicate color is picked up in the dress of the woman in an Erwin Olaf photograph, one of the many striking artworks curated by Sibille; it hangs above Gianfranco Frattini’s iconic Sesann sofa, its voluptuous contours clad in bottle-green velvet.
The living room exemplifies the audacious color palette Cartier uses throughout the apartment: “Dark hues that are a bit dramatic, like the entrance,” she says, referring to the latter’s burnt-saffron and inky-blue ceiling and walls, which set off black-and-white checkerboard tile flooring, “then mint-green pastels with watery shades, earth tones, pearly whites, finished with strong colors underlined with games of stripes.”
Bold Patterns Meld With Subtle Hues
Stripes, a recurring motif, are used with maximum impact in the main bedroom and bathroom. In the latter, they run up the walls in the form of yellow and white tiles, joining with a colorful patchwork curtain and striped-cotton toilet skirt to create a space that’s “like a beach cabin,” Cartier suggests. In the bedroom, a sunburst of broad bands of yellow and white paint explodes across the ceiling, an homage to the dazzling effect Gio Ponti created in the Villa Planchart in Caracas, Venezuela. Both rooms have the vivid immediacy associated with interiors in Provence, Andalusia, or the Mezzogiorno, a reference that’s entirely intentional. “I love the South,” she enthuses. “It was important for me to have Mediterranean accents and influences.”
Not all the furnishings are from Tacchini, of course. A multi-leg white-lacquered cabinet by Jaime Hayón is a glossy presence in the bedroom, while a black marble console from Angelo Mangiarotti’s 1971 Eros interlocking system of tables serves as a glamorous key-drop in the entry. In the second bedroom, which doubles as a study, a showstopping inlaid-oak cabinet by the Swedish studio Front is backed by a dado made of Cristina Celestino’s earth-tone Gonzaga clay tiles, another evocation of the South that Cartier so adores.
In the same room, a desk by Pietro Russo sits on a narrow rug that runs up the wall all the way to the ceiling, its bold colors—terra-cotta, rose, cream, black, white—arranged in an equally bold geometric pattern. The runner is but one in a series of eye-popping rugs that populate the residence, all of them Cartier’s design. The hand-knotted-wool collection’s irrepressible brio encapsulates the apartment’s aesthetic perfectly, as does its name: So Much Fun.
Inside Cartier’s Eclectic Abode