Apartment interior design: outstanding spaces around the globe
Apartment interiors can be tricky to balance. Create a sense of space and get inspired by our global edit of architect-designed ideas. From minimalist mezzanines and lofts that bridge old and new, to sleek urban penthouses and dramatic transformations
Creating the perfect apartment interior design is a unique task. Fitting contemporary designs within the existing bones of historical buildings, or transforming a blank canvas into a dream home takes precision, flexibility and flair. Architects around the globe are taking a turn at composing the perfect interior with striking results. Here we explore some powerful examples, travelling from Los Angeles to London, Paris, Taipei, Athens, Sao Paulo, Tel Aviv and beyond.
Apartment in Udine by Cristina Celestino
Architect and designer Cristina Celestino has just revealed the complete remodel of a private residence in a striking, brutalist concrete apartment block in Udine, Italy. Originally designed in 1978 by architect Bodini Massimo Camillo, the building features expansive apartment interiors with private balconies, bronzed aluminum windows frames, travertine stone clad communal areas and pink, textured plaster in the stairwells. Spaning some 120 sq m, this home was redesigned to respond to the existing materials and original architectural concept, Celestino explains. ‘I tried to enhance all these aspects, respecting the materials and taking inspiration from the existing geometries. The customer requested a functional home, sober but elegant and refined, with a balanced and thoughtful use of colors and materials.’
Encino Negro Apartment by dıreccıon | arquitectura + interiores
Created for a family of five, this apartment redesign is the brainchild of Mexican architect Mariana Morales, and her studio Direccion. ‘Before remodeling the condo felt cold and empty, it had finishes of red tzalam wood and gold Tepeji marble on bare white walls, and there was a lack of privacy and independence between the different living areas,’ Morales explains. ‘In the new layout, private and common areas are markedly separate and independent from each other, and the use of a darker palette of materials and colors accentuates the new found cozy and intimate charm of each space.’ Working with a simple, chic, dark colour palette, the architect created an atmospheric, yet warm interior, which is juxtaposed by the bright lights and cityscape offered by the large windows and expansive views of Mexico City.
KOA Apartment by Marty Chou Architecture
A 3.5m long bespoke countertop becomes the main centrepiece in this newly designed apartment interior in in Taipei City, Taiwan. The piece serves as a multifunctional table, from formal dining place, to kitchen island and anything in between. Created by the architecture studio of Marty Chou, the project sought to unite functionality that can negotiate the demands of daily family life, and minimalist, contemporary, multi-functional design. The highly tailor made interior works hard to cover the young family’s needs. For example, its series of recessed windows not only bring lots of natural light in, but also transforms into private sleeping quarters when closed off with a partition at night.
Quesnel Apartment by naturehumaine
Part of the ground level of a 1920s building located in the Little Burgundy neighbourhood of Montreal, this apartment interior design is the work of Canadian architecture studio naturehumaine. The project, commissioned by a local family, aimed at opening up the previously dark interior with mininalist gestures, while reconnecting the space with its garden and bringing in plenty of natural light. The intervention not only preserves the original character of the building and several of its existing decorative features. It also draws on them to create new, bespoke elements, such as ‘the curves of an arch, the fluting of the columns and cast iron radiators or the colored stained glass doors,’ the architects explain.
Sun Dial Apartment by Manuelle Gautrand
This Parisian project involved the major refurbishment and redesign of a duplex apartment in the city’s picturesque Le Marais district. This is the well known French architect Manuelle Gautrand’s very first private apartment interior design project. A bespoke, colourful staircase becomes a key centrepiece in the concept, which combines clean surfaces and the owner’s rich collection of art and decorative items. ‘The goal was to create a strip of natural light, through which the sun, whether it be cold white winter light or warm summer, could cast its shadow and influence the interior experience, upstairs and down, throughout the day,’ says Gautrand. ‘A traditional staircase would have interfered with the continuity of this strip of sky and so I began playing with the relief that these 20cm thick pieces of cellular concrete would make and the stairs came out of this. Then I decided to make it even bigger, so that it extended up the wall of the mezzanine and onto the wall under the skylight.’
Apartment ACL by Arthur Casas
This lush Brazilian apartment was designed around the client’s art collection. Crafted by famed interiors architect Arthur Casas from his Sao Paulo headquarters, the project is set in a modern apartment block and was created as a collaboration with Cristiane Trolesi, from C+AD Arquitetura e Design. Meanwhile, the interiors were conceived jointly by Casas and the owner – they are ‘a longtime friend of the studio,’ explains the architect. ‘The biggest challenge was to simultaneously meet the demand for free walls for works of art, for shelves to house decorative objects and for generous environments, with wide spans and an adaptable layout,’ says the design team. ‘The solution was to extend the apartment’s social area and optimize the existing and new walls as much as possible.’
The Independent Penthouse by Urbanspace Interiors
Set in the heart of downtown Austin in Texas, USA, this penthouse combines generous space, striking city views, a modernist simplicity and natural materials and textures that give the expansive apartment interior swathes of personality and a tactile feel. ‘Our focus was on creating a space that felt expansive, yet intimate,’ explains Urbanspace Interiors principal Merrill Alley. ‘When you’re standing in any area of the home, the openness gives the illusion that you are floating up in the clouds, and when you turn inward, the focal points found throughout the space are appropriately appointed to the size of the space to make a statement while still feeling intimate.’
Bard College Berlin Student Residences by Civilian
Great apartment interior design doesn’t always mean lush penthouses and private residences. Created by dynamic and emerging architecture and interiors firm Civilian, these are the new student apartments at the campus residences for Bard College in Berlin, Germany. Inspired by the city’s rich design legacy and modernist architecture, the team composed a series of spaces that feel fun and contemporary but also work hard and are highly functional. Opening to their first residents this month, for the new academic year, each unit features sleek bespoke joinery designs in warm, natural timber colours - while brighter hues dominate the communal areas.
Mexico City Penthouse by Simon Hamui
Moody, dark chocolate woods and rich leathers dominate this luxurious apartment interior in central Mexico City. Crafted by Mexican design firm Simon Hamui, the space balances warm and bespoke apartment interior design with long views of the cityscape, areas that ensure privacy, and plenty of space for the clients’ art collection. The modern domestic interior is enriched by a range of custom pieces created especially by the Simon Hamui team. They include a bespoke dining table, a silver leaf ceiling, a stylishly curved door, fa ireplace, and bookcase joinery.
Memories for Cruising by Antonino Cardillo
This renovation of a 100 sq m apartment in Parma, Italy transformed what was a tired interior near the city’s station, into a modern feast of colour and light. Designed by architect Antonino Cardillo, the project had a limited budget, but what it may lack in scale, it makes up in creative ambition. Colour zones define various areas and functions in the flat, some discrete, some overlapping. The colourful architecture spans muted greens, yellows and reds, natural wood and MDF doors in an eggshell finish. Drawing on the colours of nature, ‘the theme of the design is the metamorphosis of plants,’ explains Cardillo.
Mota Apartment by Flavio Castro
Created for a businessman and his family in São Paulo, Brazil, this contemporary apartment is the work of the local architecture and design studio of Flavio Castro. The space effortlessly combines modernism and minimalism, in a blend that feels generous and elegant, but not too precious, and as such, fit for everyday family life. Taking down walls and opening up spaces and views were essential in the architect’s approach. Bespoke furniture and details abound, including a large horizontal panel of freijó wood that enriches the living space, and a bookcase that divides that space from the entrance hall, and serves as a tailored display for the owners’ personal collection of objet.
No.1 Grosvenor Square by Lodha UK
No.1 Grosvenor Square is one of London’s most recognisable addresses – formerly the home to the American Embassy in London and neighbour to the later US embassy home by modernist architect Eero Saarinen at 24 Grosvenor Square. Now the prestigious historic London building at No.1 Grosvenor Square is being reinvented as residential, with Eric Parry Archtiects overseeing the architecture and more design work unfolding inside by globally acclaimed firms. The transformation includes this newly revealed apartment interior design by developer Lodha UK’s expert design team. The building’s past life was a huge inspiration to Blandine de Navacelle, Lodha UK’s creative director, who oversaw the works. ‘In its past life as an embassy, the building would have hosted many a party and evening soirée,’ she says. ‘Grosvenor Square has also long been the centre of London’s social set; Oscar Wilde used to live on the square and was infamous for his parties. I wanted Residence 4.3 to nod to this, and to create the perfect place to entertain. The apartment, in terms of proportion and layout is a tribute the 18th century European lifestyle, where people wanted to host big parties and display their art collection.’
Residence 0110 by Raul Sanchez
Spanish architect Raul Sanchez has a knack for creating striking, geometric worlds that come alive with shapes and colour, and nowhere is this more evident than in his latest residential space - an apartment interior design in Barcelona’s Poble Nou neighbourhood. The project, Sanchez’s own home, is a modest apartment containing four main rooms within a chamfered floorplan. Using simple geometric shapes, the architect creates complex environments clad in raw materials, such as exposed concrete, dark stained oak, brass and stainless steel. Textures play an equally key role in the composition. ‘[The materials] form a sober and elegant universe, but at the same time offer playful and fresh counterpoints, reflective and matt, smooth and rough, simple and complex,’ says Sanchez.
Grenelle flat by Studio Vincent Eschalier
This Parisian apartment created by Studio Vincent Eschalier is composed around an all-encompassing lightness and openness. The apartment interior design sits in the 7th arrondissement and draws on the sense of sobriety and minimalism of the area’s ‘art gallery and luxury retail,’ explains its creator. Located on the fourth storey of an apartment block, the space is a skilful mix of raw and refined materials - so, stainless steel and wood sit side by side with marble, terrazzo and travertine stone. An open plan arrangement, mirrors and light colours as well as the apartment large openings, help enhance the sense of space throughout.
TAXCO apartments by EDAA
Mexican architecture firm EDAA completely reinvented this interior in a former 1940 house in Mexico City, which has been converted into a boutique apartment block. The original building was protected by the INBA (National Institute of Fine Arts), so the architects respectfully worked with the building’s existing bones, adding layers and tweaks that would bring it to the 21st century. Opening up the interiors, working with exposed concrete and wood, and adding planting where possible, the team has breathed new life into this historical site and created a dialogue between the existing and new architecture and its urban Roma Sur neighbourhood context.
Jaffa Roofhouse by Gitai Architects
A brand new penthouse interior located in the ancient port of Jaffa, Isreal, this minimalist architecture space is the brainchild of a team: it was designed and co-curated by Gitai Architects and Isabelle Wolf, and built by architects Ben Gitai and Charly Chrochu. The open, generous living space’s interior is defined by a large, curved earth structure that hides within two bedrooms, a dressing area and bathrooms. This feature is made from compressed soil and straw with earth plastering. Its earthiness is complemented by neutral, soft colours throughout the apartment, creating a calming overall composition.
Habitee Urban Dorms by Estudio Zero
It’s not just private apartments that can boast refined interior designs; this student accomodation in Mexico’s city of Queretaro has modern style in bags too. Created by Estudio Zero, the design works with a fairly restricted palette of textures and materials, including naked concrete and wood, to compose a space that feels sophisticated but also entirely fit for purpose. Built in cabinetry for storage and desk space were essential, while generous sizes and ample communal areas make for a comfortable and convivial interior architecture.
Biscuit Loft by OWIU
A Japanese-inspired apartment design in Downtown LA’s burgeoning Arts District, this is the work of emerging architecture studio OWIU, headed by Amanda Gunawan and Joel Wong. Drawing on the principles of Ryokan (a type of traditional Japanese inn), the interior design transformed an old industrial space - as its name suggests, an old biscuit factory, from the 1920s - in a two bedroom, calming urban haven. Working with the building’s existing historical bones, the architects worked on a palette of natural materials and neutral colours, and an uncluttered aesthetic that favoures key furniture and art pieces that are also practical.
Botzaris by Ariel Claudet, Dechelette Architecture
This 90 sq m apartment has been re-imagined by its author as a cross between a living space and an art gallery. Designed by architect Ariel Claudet and located in a post-war late modernist building facing the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in the XIXth arrondissement of Paris, the interior is defined by its clean, pared based treatment. Created for an artist, Sara Naim, the space consolidates many uses - it is a home, a studio, a gallery space and an archive. The architect worked in close collaboration with his client to craft a collaborative space that is entirely fit for purpose and tailored to its resident’s needs. ‘The white walls of the gallery space unfold and stretch out to all rooms,’ says Claudet. ‘Sara Naim’s artworks break out from the studio and spread out freely on the wall surface of the entire home.’
DN apartment by Bruno Carvalho Arquitectos
This clever apartment interior redesign of a unit within a 1970s residential block in Sao Paulo’s Jardins neighbourhood, is the brainchild of local architecture and design firm BC Arquitectos, headed by principal Bruno Carvalho. Drawing on modernist architecture influences and minimalist poetry, the space uses exponsed concrete and dark timber cladding to compose a tactile and warm interior. The timber’s natural walnut hues shine through against the roughness of the concrete, granilite and cement mixture around it. The furniture collection uses works by Brazilian modernist masters.
Bankside Loft by EBBA
This apartment renovation in London’s Southbank area is designed by emerging architecture studio EBBA, headed by architect Benni Allan. Bankside Loft was conceived as an open-plan, smart interior. It cleverly makes the most of a relatively compact surface, while creating an impact through its overall aesthetic. To achieve this, two mezzanine spaces were created either side of the apartment block’s structural frame, which was stripped back and is now visible in the unit. Underneath the mezzanine areas, the architect placed the kitchen and bathroom. The mezzanines, which feel spacious and comfortable due to the original concrete structure’s especially high ceilings, house a bedroom and a study. The pine wood used for the joinery is treated with a white stain, creating a minimalist, yet soft effect in the apartment interior.
Florfield Road Penthouse by Common Ground Workshop
Transforming an unassuming, contemporary residential block’s top level into a sleek and open, modern penthouse, this project is the brainchild of young and dynamic architecture studio Common Ground Workshop. The space, which is situated in the heart of London’s Hackney, is now wrapped in zinc cladding. It features smooth, high-quality materials inside and makes the most of the property’s large windows and sliding glass roof-terrace doors. Instilling spatial flexibility to this two-bedroom apartment, the architects favoured flowing, open-plan spaces, for both living and working. Quartz and timber surfaces, concrete-effect floor tiling and a frameless glass balustrade make for a minimalist, contemporary material palette.
House by the Bailucchi by llabb
Designed to be flooded in Mediterranean light, this apartment interior in the northern Italian city of Genoa was designed by Luca Scardulla and Federico Robbiano of local architecture studio llabb. The concept combines a contemporary approach with the existing building’s period details. The property spans two floors and the architects focused on opening it up in order to allow light to travel to every corner. They also wanted to connect the two levels in a visually meaningful way. As a result, a dramatic staircase links everything together, with continuity ensured by a minimalist palette that mixes white plaster, exposed period features and sleek modern fittings, such as window frames and radiators. The owners, an international couple working in the creative industries, especially appreciate the craftmanship displayed in the construction and details (Scardulla and Robbiano originally established their business in 2013 as a carpentry workshop).
Home for the Arts by i29
This striking apartment interior is located in a contemporary building in the former industrial area of northern Amsterdam. Conceived for clients – an art collector and a writer – who were very involved in the design process, the interior occupies a spacious, double-height unit. The architects, i29, completely gutted it to redesign from scratch. The architecture studio took the clients’ collection as a cue. ‘To display the enormous collection of art in the ultimate way was our starting point, so we designed double-height open cabinets to store most of the extravagant art pieces,’ say the design team. As a result, the apartment interior appears clean and minimalist, and features high-end bespoke joinery, including plinths and an impressive, tall bookcase. The last conceals a staircase, leading to the sleeping areas above the main, open-plan living space – which has a gallery feel, allowing the artwork to take centre stage.
Icon Wood House by Henkin Shavit Design Studio
This clever apartment interior design sits within a 1960s concrete residential building in Tel Aviv. When the client, a family of four, purchased the space on the 12th floor, the apartment was divided by three long and narrow rooms in a layout that felt dated and unwieldy. They came to local architects Henkin Shavit Design Studio to transform the interior into a bright, unified and contemporary home. The architects tore down nearly all the partition walls to reveal a generous, open-plan area. This contains a number of functions. It includes the living room, a kitchen, a spacious work area and the children’s room, playfully placed within a freestanding, timber, house-shaped structure. The parents’ bedroom, bathroom and a guest bedroom are situated off it, slightly separately. A neutral material and colour palette of greys and whites, timber and concrete, ensures the furniture and the daily life within the apartment become the highlight of this home.
Apartment BDD, Jean Benoît Vétillard Architecture
Apartment BDD by Jean Benoît Vétillard Architecture transforms an open-plan apartment with an ‘open valley’, a steep arrangement of storage and steps that leads up from the kitchen and dining space to two sleeping pods tucked away on the upper level of a double-height space. Working within just 60m2, the architects have somehow managed to create three sleeping areas (two upstairs and one below, in the heart of the ‘mountain’), a modest shower room and separate WC. ‘This is a generous, luminous shared space,’ the architects say, ‘with no walls, just surfaces that can be walked on. The project is the total transformation of an apartment that’s also like a change of life.’
Barbican apartment, Takero Shimazaki Architects
Takero Shimazaki Architects’ project for an apartment interior design within London’s Barbican makes the most of the Shakespeare Tower’s cluster of three long, linear apartments on each floor. By extending the living/dining space and removing internal walls, t-sa has created a spacious sanctum for clients who have spent many years in Japan. Shimazaki worked with lead designer Haruka Nogami, Edward Pepper and Giacomo Pelizzari to find an approach that melded traditional Japanese architectural language with the Barbican’s familiar palette of brutalist concrete and heavy timber. Taking inspiration from early Japanese Modernism – in particular the work of Seiichi Shirai – t-sa’s design pairs light timber screens, tatami mats, stone pebble flooring and a terrazzo column inserted into the main living space to act as a ‘bridge between the two conflicting languages of this interior architecture.’ Shirai often deployed the column as an ordering device and here the whole plan pivots off this central point, which cleverly retains the original galley kitchen and bathroom layout while maximising the visual distances available. Carpets are soft and grey to match the existing concrete, while the timber slats, screens and cladding is a warm counterpoint to the original heavy wood window frames. ‘The resulting architecture does not belong to Japan, to classicism nor any specific time,’ says Shimazaki, ‘It is a site and client-specific architectural dialogue in language, tradition, renovation and ultimately, a spatial drama that is borne out of a gentle, yet conflicting encounter of language of the details in a small universe, inside a tower in London.’
Athens Apartment by Point Supreme
An unfinished, lower ground level apartment in an existing block of flats in the sleepy neighbourhood of Ilioupoli, Athens, coming in a fairly compact size – just 56 sq m – and a small budget for a residential redesign, may not seem like the most exciting commission at first glance; but architecture studio Point Supreme’s Konstantinos Pantazis and Mariana Rentzou beg to differ. The architects composed a design that feels a world away from your typical apartment interior. Embracing the existing space’s rawness and the structure’s exposed concrete, the Pantazis and Rentzou worked with a range of different materials and textures to create a tactile, playful, largely open plan home. Timber and glass partitions separate various uses and heavy, brightly coloured curtains add privacy where needed. The architects employed their signature approach of uniting different styles and often, seemingly mismatched features into a coherent, unexpected whole. Now, the redesigned space includes from wood to steel, fabric and salvaged cotto ceramic tiles in a variety of colours and shades. ‘[The tiles] were typically used during the 1970s in holiday homes throughout Greece to cover exterior surfaces such as verandas and porticos next to gardens,’ the team explains. ‘Their roughness complements ideally the roughness of the concrete, and is reminiscent of an earthy surface.’