Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Revisiting Henri Samuel

Did you read the April issue of French AD? If so, you probably saw the article about the late French designer Henri Samuel. Samuel was one of the all-time design greats, having created interiors that were, and still are, the epitome of French chic. Although some of his work could be described as grand (his work for the Gutfreunds, for example, was notable for its tasteful splendor,) not all of Samuel's work was quite so lavish. His own home, seen here, was supremely sophisticated and yet, a tad bit more relaxed than what one might expect.  Perhaps you could liken Samuel's casual decorative gestures to a blue blazer, Hermès pocket square, neatly pressed blue jeans, and loafers rather than a hoodie, sweatpants, and flip-flops, an outfit which is, unfortunately, most people's definition of casual.

While Samuel could craft some purely traditional interiors, he was equally drawn to contemporary furniture, as is evidenced by the modern pieces with which he lived. Samuel was very adept at mixing, say, Guy de Rougemont-designed furniture (like that brass cloud table, below) with antiques and refined accessories in such a way that these super-sleek pieces were elevated to the sublime.  I hate to say it, but in lesser hands, this type of contemporary furniture is often used in ways that ultimately look a little seedy, and seedy is a word that will never describe Samuel or his work.

If you missed the article, take a look below.  Although some of these photos have appeared in a few design books, it's important to revisit them again.  This is the work of a true master.

The salon of Samuel's apartment on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris.

Another view of the salon...

...and another.

This snazzy Philippe Hiquily table resided in a Munich apartment decorated by Samuel.

A Plexiglas and chrome Mouchoir table by François Arnal and two upholstered gondola-style chairs once decorated Samuel's library.

All photos appeared in the April 2013 issue of French AD.


  1. Henri Samuel--none are his equal. Thank you for this super post. I am dreaming of the green velvet chairs and the "Mouchoir" table.

  2. It's always a pleasure to revisit Henri Samuel, and by pure coincidence I'd just been glancing at the rooms he designed with
    his most talented disciple, the great Susan Gutfreund. And you make an interesting point with the phrase "in lesser hands..."
    There was a classical structure present in all of Henri Samuel's work that allowed the inclusion of pieces which might seem
    a bit outré in other settings.

    1. Anonymous2:07 AM

      You have just described beautifully "genius!"
      Thank you!!

  3. One of the greatest of them all. Unlike many these days, a supremely worthy subject of a detailed monograph. Mitch Owens, are you reading this? Reggie

  4. Samuels created classic and certainly glamorous rooms that were meant for a lifetime, not just a year or even a decade. His designs were always a delicious mix of materials that, as you say, in lesser hands might have been a disaster.

    Now, Jennifer, I'm wondering if you would someday do a post about another great French designer...Serge Royaux?

    April, Just Verte Style

  5. Henri Samuel-just the best! Love his design! Thank you