Inside the Paris apartment that doubles as a self-portrait
French designer Sophie Dries says creating an interior is like creating a portrait. So what does her own home reveal?
Interior designers truly open up in Inside. This new book draws together a beautifully conceived, exquisitely photographed selection of homes made by sixty of the world’s most celebrated interior designers and decorators.
There’s plenty of variety in the book, from country retreats to big city pieds-à-terre; elegantly faded European palazzos, to paint-fresh newly built apartments. Yet Inside also contains a good deal of common ground. In a variety of different ways, each of these homes says something distinctive about its owner.
“As you will see in this book, personal style is not a secret to keep but a communication technique to share,” writes William Norwich, commissioning editor of fashion and interior design books at Phaidon, in Inside’s introduction. “Decorators telegraph their faith in gracious living, food, fashion, art, wellness, and especially the decoration of houses. Their homes, to paraphrase the historian James Laver, are nothing less than the furniture of their minds made visible.”
French designer Sophie Dries certainly shares this point of view. “Doing an interior is almost like doing a portrait,” she says in Inside.
“After cutting her teeth with Jean Nouvel, Pierre Yovanovitch, and Christian Liaigre, Dries founded her eponymous studio in 2014,” explains Inside’s accompanying text. “Since then, she has applied this character study–based approach to luxurious private residences, hotels, boutiques, and even a flower shop.”
Then in 2019, Dries prepared to create her self-portrait, when she moved into a second-floor apartment in one of the city’s nineteenth-century Haussmann apartment buildings, which line many of the French capital’s boulevards.
“Resplendent with period features — from parquet flooring and panelled walls to a marble fireplace — the apartment reflects the city’s traditional continental charm,” reads the text in Inside. “Against that backdrop, Dries introduced vivid splashes of colour, an unexpected palette of industrial materials, and a selection of experimental furniture that represents her taste for stark, straight lines and 1990s-era contemporary design.”
In one room the designer has paired an orange, landscape photograph by Ryan McGinley with a monumental, pale orange resin coffee table by Max Lamb.
In another, otherwise innocuous, hall-like connecting room (pictured), the designer has created “a cabinet of curiosities that boasts seaweed-green walls covered in Chinese straw paper, a custom-made pine cabinet with an intricate facade, and a resin chair by Italian industrial designer and architect Gaetano Pesce.”
“When you have a very small room, it’s interesting to treat it in a dark colour because it makes it super cosy,” Dries says in the book, adding that this room has ended up as one of the apartment’s most charming, thanks to the framed artworks on display.
“I can be super sophisticated, and I can be super rebellious,” Dries says of her work; her Paris apartment supports this claim. However, by the time you read this, Dries’s portrait may have changed once again, as at the time of going to press, Dries and her partner were about to welcome their first child.
“Plans for the baby’s bedroom have not yet been finalised,” according to Inside, “although Dries laughingly acknowledges that her fondness for cement blocks and rusted steel may not work quite as well there.”
Now, that’s a family portrait we can’t wait to see. For more images of this home and many others, order a copy of Inside here.