April 22, 2021
Louis Denavaut Imbues a Parisian Tech Company’s HQ with Character and Poise
A warm palette of noble materials, textured surfaces, and curved walls transforms a mediocre office into a refined bureau that transcends workplace norms.
“All the formal possibilities within design have already been explored,” interior design newcomer Louis Denavaut explains. “Today, we operate more like film directors who primarily respond to the needs of their clients and then the needs of context. Mixing elements from the 19th century with contemporary details is all part of the same process.” The Paris-based talent started his career within the contemporary art world before turning his focus to architecture and interiors. His dynamic practice centers on the strategic balancing of artisanal techniques and aesthetics. Inspired by experimental Belgian firms like Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen and architecten De Vylder Vinck Taillieu, Denavaut likes to approach every project as a blank slate and employ tools like distortion to uncover new functions.
His latest project, a 13-thousand-square-foot office for a tech company, illustrates this versatile and uncommon approach. Conceived in partnership will fellow École Camondo classmates Hauvette & Madani, this workspace was designed and executed during the pandemic to meet the singular goal of combining cutting-edge technology and contemporary style. The design team was given carte blanche and produced an unexpected yet cohesive result. “The building was somewhat sterile like 99 percent of the construction projects in the world developed by real estate investors,” Denavaut says disdainfully. “Our design needed to match the client’s desire for something entirely new, address numerous technical constraints, and most importantly, provide ambiance.”
They installed double-layered, warm wood paneling to conceal unimpressive curtainwalls and stone-slab framing. This intervention was implemented in a way so that that space could still capture natural light. Encapsulated in these wooden walls and interior glass partitions, linen curtains break up different areas and offer a sense of intimacy. Curved forms throughout hint at the historic Art Deco style but are ultimately contemporary interpretations.
As with many of Denavaut’s projects, custom furnishings meticulously crafted by local producer LA MANUFACTURER help drive home the overall scheme. “Creating bespoke pieces for an interior is much more work than just specifying industrially produced furniture, but it makes all the difference,” the designer explains. “By continuing to work this way, I hope to carry on the tradition of Modernist architects like Mies van der Rohe or Alvaar Alto, who created all-encompassing environments.”
Various beige tones were used to counterbalance the wood paneling but also create a more comfortable work environment. “Cutting edge technology is always associated with aseptic white materials. The brief was tricky in this sense,” Denavaut concludes. “Fortunately, our client appreciates historic places and natural materials. He loves contemporary art.” A far cry from the ubiquitous tech workplace, categorized by Silicon Valley’s design language of boisterous graphics, loud colors, and cheap materials, Denavaut’s design offers something refreshing and rare: longevity.
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