Restaurants, shops, bars, hotels … She continues to put her name on projects in the French capital, and our eyes catches her for the first time now. The occasion is the title “Designer of the Year 2019″, which the organizers of the French exhibition Maison & Objet gave her for this year’s edition of the event (6-10 Sept.). Ashamed of this “late notice”, we are presenting her to you. She is the architect, Laura Gonzalez.
At 37, she is already well known for her work on the Parisian public interiors, marking them with her own style of “contemporary classics.“I feel that spaces need to have their own soul.” says Gonzalez, who trained at the Paris- Malaquais School of Architecture, applying this type of thinking to her every project since starting her own company in 2008. Some of her ”touched” spaces were” sleeping beauties “whose charm she skillfully awakened – Alcazar, Hotel Christine, the Brasserie La Lorraine, while others she designed from scratch, giving free reign to her creative flair – 86 Champs, Manko, Noto, Louboutin stores in Barcelona and Amsterdam and Cartier stores in Zurich and London.
“I never do the same thing twice.” she says, referring to her latest Paris project. At La Gare Restaurant, for example, a huge brasserie-style restaurant in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, she has incorporated numerous references to travel by looking to the shores of the Mediterranean for inspiration. At the Cartier store on Paris’s rue de la Paix, meanwhile, the space she’s designed resembles an apartment worthy of Coco Chanel, and at the Lapérouse she’s restored all the woodwork, artwork and period frescoes whilst simultaneously adding her own quirky, romantic touch.
Distinctive to Gonzalez‘s work is the specific combinations of motifs, materials, colors and eras. As she herself reveals: “ I love adding a plethora of details, ensuring there’s always something of interest, no matter where the gaze falls.” She is known for her constant collaborations with some of France’s very best craftsmen, including marble masons, cabinetmakers, glassmakers, glass blowers, mosaic specialists and lacquerers.
Gonzalez is currently busy working on a brand new project that sits just perfectly with her Latin sense of exuberance, inherited from her Spanish mother: renovating a mansion in the Vexin to create what she calls a “living showroom”. It’s a place where she intends to welcome clients, craftsmen, chefs, journalists, in a space where she will display vintage finds – hunting for vintage pieces is one of her passions – alongside her brand new furniture range, featuring sofas, lights and tables.
This paradise-sounding venue will open in November, and until then, the architect invites us on a private tour of Paris where she is the guide and we just follow her ( only mentally… for now).
How long have you been living in Paris?
I was born in Paris and then spent a few years living in Cannes before returning to the capital to attend the Légion d’Honneur sixth form college and then the Paris-Malaquais School of Architecture.
Having previously lived on both the left and right banks, I currently live in the 16th arrondissement, which is extremely handy as my office, my kids’ school and my family are all just around the corner!
Where would you say is the ultimate spot to get a real feel for the city?
Which places do you find most culturally inspiring?
That’s easy – the city’s museums and exhibitions. I recently went to the Nabis exhibition at the Musée du Luxembourg, which I absolutely adored. The works are all highly decorative, creating the impression of filling up the canvas, representing nature, prints… It was fascinating. Their representative narrative exudes something truly poetic.
We’re so lucky to have access to that kind of culture in Paris. I’m also dying to go and see Le Modèle Noir at the Musée d’Orsay.
And it goes without saying that the collections housed by the Louvre and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs are a constant source of inspiration.
Which restaurant or café would you say best captures the Parisian vibe?
La Poule au Pot … For me, it offers everything you would expect of a Parisian brasserie combined with outstanding cuisine from head chef, Jean-François Piège.
Which neighbourhood instantly springs to mind when we say “Shopping in Paris”?
The department store on the left bank, Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche.
Do you have any secret addresses you’d care to share?
Le Tigre Yoga, the place where I go for some “me” time. I attend some amazing workshops there at weekends.
Where is the best place to stay for anyone keen to explore the city?
Le Relais Christine, right in the heart of the Saint-Germain neighbourhood, a little piece of paradise hidden away with its private gardens.
Which design piece can only be picked up in Paris?
Go to the flea market in Saint Ouen – it’s a unique spot where you’re always guaranteed to find some hidden treasures!
Visit and see Laura‘s projects in person during this year’s edition of MAISON & OBJET. Don’t forget to enjoy her urban design recommendations for an even more inspiring stay in romantic Paris.
Since 1995, MAISON&OBJET has been the world’s foremost event for professionals of the lifestyle, interior design and design industries. Every edition brings together some 3,000 exhibitors and more than 85,000 unique visitors. Аgain this year, MD will be part of the exhibition and will follow the latest design and decor according to the French selection in September. More about the event read at www.maison-objet.com or just wait for the MD’s Autumn Issue to show you the highlights firsthand.