Magic box: Charles Kalpakian’s puzzle-like interiors project changes the rules of the game
There’s a cryptic element to Charles Kalpakian’s latest Paris interior. Asked to reflect his client’s life as a watchmaker and collector of street art, the Beirut-born designer has created a collection of functional pieces, defined by puzzle-like shapes, coded symbols and contrasting textures.
‘The client really wanted something like an écrin [jewellery-box] interior, mixing art deco shapes and beautiful details like those of watch components,’ says Kalpakian. ‘As he collects street art, I started to think about graffiti as leaving a message, or a signature on a wall.’ Starting with a manifesto drawing of abstract lines and shapes taken from both sources of inspiration, the designer evolved his ideas into a collection of bespoke pieces for the apartment.
The brushed brass radiator cover plays a visual game in the apartment designed by Kalpakian
A dramatic 3.6m high bookcase complete with a ladder forms the centrepiece of the luxurious scheme. Stepped oak shelves and panels with brass fixings are arranged to play a visual game, and appear to float by clever mounting on the black wall behind. The other interventions are a minimal staircase, a puzzle-like door panel, and a brushed brass radiator cover. All are treated with a palette of natural oak, metal and brass, and carry the same mystical symbols that seem hold a hidden message.
To achieve a sense of balance, the colours and textures of the whole interior were treated in a strict ratio. This helped emphasise the additions, without overwhelming pieces of art from the client’s collection.
Bold graphic composition and illusions are a continuing theme for Kalpakian, whose previous pieces include the op-art inspired ‘Cinétisme’ wall cabinet for Galerie BSL and ‘Rocky’, an angular credenza for La Chance. ‘I love to play with the opposition of textures, shiny and natural, precious and simple, full and empty,’ he muses. ‘In all my projects I try to find a balance between a refined aesthetic and the right material.’