In a Mayfair Residence, London-based Design Practice Child Studio Blends Late-stage Mid-century Modernism and the Days of Art Deco With Impeccable Panache
London‘s historical Mayfair mews houses are now even more fashionable with Child Studio‘s latest contribution to the scene: a suave reinterpretation of Yves Saint Laurent‘s sumptuous Grand Salon at 55 rue de Babylone in Paris. Handed a blank canvas in which to reimagine that much-admired muse, practice founders Alexy Kos and Che Huang created an environment of much élan and an au courant rapport, but with a fresh, contemporary voice all its own. The space speaks volumes: This is haute couture at home.
“We were interested in finding an authentic design language for this project, balancing the Art Deco references with 1960s and ’70s modernism,” say Alexy Kos and Che Huang, who designed the sociable space for a London hotelier and restaurateur.
In this language, the designers are fluent. The material palette, mixing of eras and aesthetics, and magpie connoisseurship of objets d’art that define Yves Saint Laurent’s lush Parisian apartment are all channeled in this project, but rigorously scrutinized and refined so that while the result speaks to the eclecticist, there is a more subtle insinuation at work rather than grand rapture and Italian Rococo.
Responding to the owner’s desire to entertain, the designers zoned the interior into a series of hospitable spaces using gorgeous wood-crafted library walls. The heart of the composition is its social core, a generous living room lounge that sets a high-touch but approachable tone and introduces the project’s palette and penchant for the slightly eccentric.
“Here, we assembled a mix of collectible 20th-century furniture pieces, complemented by an eclectic collection of sculptures, heirlooms and art books, contributing to the effortless and lived-in atmosphere,” say the designers.
This is a pared-back approach when comparing this project alongside Yves Saint Laurent’s elaborately sensual Babylon, but the artful and elegant result is familiar. One imagines the great man would approve of such a chic fusion of elements, however, from the asymmetrical maple wood table that Alexy Kos and Che Huang designed to complement the warm character of folding screens by Eames, to the cache of mid-century finds, including a Pernilla lounge chair by Bruno Mathsson, Carani floor lamp, and leather armchairs by Danish designer Kristian Vedel. Adorning marble side tables, meanwhile, a pair of Japanese paper lamps by Ingo Mauer are a graceful addition.
One of the project’s most dashing appeals to Art Deco details is front and center in the lounge—a curvaceous fireplace formed from polished plaster and exquisitely highlighted by a linear skylight that glosses the area with a celestial-like quality.
Designed to bring a sense of scale and permanence to the space, the designers say, “It is amazing to see how its soft geometry responds to the shifts in lighting throughout the day.”
This monochromatic piece of sculpture does not compete for attention; nor does it neglect its duty to dazzle. Rather, it treads the line between showpiece and spoiler with beautiful aplomb.
“There is a subtle shift in atmosphere between the spacious lounge and the more intimate adjacent rooms,” Alexy Kos and Che Huang explain, “but the whole place is unified through the crafted wood detailing and warm materiality.”
Formed by custom marble-clad library cabinets and a slick glass brick partition with a geometric motif that separates it from the kitchenette, the dining room is a debonair example, containing the project’s procession of Mahogany and marble, but complementing it with a splash of plush velvet green. Material in this room, the designers divulge, deviates from Yves Saint Laurent in Paris to the modernist Villa Müller by Adolf Loos, but the grouping of dark Mahogany wood, patterned marble and green upholstery “feels so chic, yet warm and unpretentious.”
Dining chairs by Charlotte Perriand, a round maple table by Alexy Kos and Che Huang, and Ingo Maurer’s Uchiwa chandelier—a delicate concoction made with overlapping fans and a bamboo frame—leaves that assessment unchallenged. Grounding it all is a rug from Child Studio’s Bauhaus-inspired rug collection.
Although tucked behind the library, the study is not sidelined. Anchored by a proud leather-top desk, the handsome wood-paneled room shows decorative restraint but does allow for animation via an array of objects and art. Antique lithographs by the likes of French painter Georges Braque, champion of the avant-garde Jean Cocteau and Dutch artist Karen Appel. Photographs by another Frenchman, Guy Bourdin, and American iconoclast Man Ray. Accents of a particular vintage: an Italian floor lamp from Stilnovo, 1960s Danish brass sconces, and a desk lamp by Spanish modernist Pedro Martín from the same era.
This project is not a period piece, however. It is not overly deferential. It is a well-fashioned contemporizing of nostalgia with a sense of place. That place is here. It is now. This is not Paris, and it is not Saint Laurent. It’s London.
Child Studio | childstudio.co
Photos: Child Studio & Felix Speller