Friday, November 07, 2014
Alain Demachy, Polymath Designer
Although I haven't seen a great deal of the work of French interior designer Alain Demachy, I have seen enough to know that I admire both his style and his skill. I was first introduced to Demachy's work thanks to my 1980s-era French design books. Many of those books featured photos of Demachy's decadent-looking green velvet dining room, which I consider to be one of the all-time great dining rooms. This room must have struck a chord with people, because that dining room appeared in many design books and publications.
The Paris-based designer has had an illustrious career as a designer, an architect, and an antiques dealer. During the 1960s and 1970s, Demachy teamed up with prominent Paris antiquaire, Didier Aaron. During their partnership, in which Demachy tended to the architecture and interior design side of the business while Aaron focused on antiques, the two men hired a young designer, Jacques Grange, who credits both Demachy and Aaron as having had a profound influence on his work. (If you compare the work of Demachy and Grange, I think you'll see a few similarities.) Demachy eventually went solo, first opening his own design firm and later becoming proprietor of Galerie Camoin Demachy, a much-lauded antiques gallery. (Check out the gallery's website. You have to love an antiques business that has "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" playing on its website.)
What I appreciate about Demachy is his ability to mix disparate-yet-like minded furnishings in a way that ultimately fosters stylish, harmonious rooms. "Eclectic" is often the term used to describe rooms that are decorated with a lavish array of styles and periods, and yet, I don't think that term fits the sophistication and elegance that define Demachy's work. The designer obviously has an appreciation for early-20th-century design, most notably Arts and Crafts and the Art Deco style. But then he might introduce African masks, Oceanic art, and 1950s-era furniture to the mix. The result are interiors that reflect Demachy's skill as a designer and his connoisseurship.
The photos below, which were taken from Elle Décor: The Grand Book of French Style and an Architectural Digest article, show Demachy's residence, which is located above his antiques gallery. I admit that I'm a little confused about the dining room. The AD article shows a green velvet dining room with painted doors, which, by the way, came from Pavillon Colombe, Edith Wharton's estate located outside of Paris. The Elle Décor book also shows a green velvet dining room, furbished with a banquette and Turkish ottomans, which looks slightly different- this is the version that appeared in all of those 80s-era publications. Is it the same design scheme that was simply photographed from different angles, or did Demachy tweak his dining room over the years? I guess it doesn't really matter, because both versions are successful thanks to Demachy's sumptuous use of green velvet.
And finally, the photo below shows a former apartment of his, located on the avenue Montaigne. I included it because I think it's so attractive: