The Decor Universe of Frédéric Malle

When asked about the sources of his taste for beauty and the mix of styles, Frédéric Malle immediately credits his mother, who involved him and his brother in her decorative ventures in the various family properties. From a young age, Frédéric Malle listened to and observed his surroundings. Besides his studies in art history, his attentiveness undoubtedly trained his eye and allowed him to develop his personal taste. To fully appreciate this, one of the most enjoyable ways is to visit the boutiques of Editions de Parfums, which he envisions as extensions of his own residences.

Everything begins in the boutique at 37 Rue de Grenelle in Paris. For him, it is evident that this place, intended to welcome the first clients of his brand, must be both conducive to attentive listening to advise each customer in choosing a perfume and in the spirit of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood where it is located. Frédéric Malle also knows he will spend a great deal of time there and will welcome his friends. He thus conceives the boutique as an extension of his Parisian apartment: a place where one feels comfortable, where the noise of the street is left behind to calmly explore perfumes. A boutique designed to receive guests as if at home and also as an alcove where time seems to stand still.

shop at 37 rue de Grenelle in Paris

"In decoration, all mixes of objects are possible as long as their visual impact is similar. All kinds of harmonies can be created without needing homogeneity in style or color."

Frédéric Malle organizes the 58 square meter space based on advice from Andrée Putman and with the collaboration of Olivier Lempereur. For the interior decoration, he has very specific inspirations that play with contrasts: wooden panels in the spirit of architect Carlo Scarpa's scenography for the Palazzo Abatellis in Palermo, and a concrete floor reminiscent of a New York contemporary art gallery.

Thus, like a cabinet of curiosities, the boutique on Rue de Grenelle creates a dialogue between the modernity of the graphic scent columns he designed himself and African artifacts acquired from art dealer Stéphane Mangin. It features a table and chairs designed by Jean Prouvé, a photograph by Philip-Lorca diCorcia, an engraving by Louise Bourgeois, and two works by Roni Horn. This carefully orchestrated eclecticism incorporates elements from his personal collections.

The same principle of integration into the neighborhood where the boutiques are located subsequently leads to very specific and distinct realizations.

Details from the shop at 37 rue de Grenelle in Paris

Feature by Donald Judd, the inspiration behind the red metal bookcase in the shop at 140 avenue Victor Hugo, Paris

For the Marais boutique in Paris and the Greenwich Avenue boutique in New York, the desire to stand out takes precedence. Situated in more arty than classical neighborhoods, the architectural composition of these boutiques emphasizes this uniqueness: Jakob + MacFarlane created a sculptural work enhanced by mirror effects in Paris, while Steven Holl displayed his relentless ingenuity in the West Village.

Conversely, the New York boutique on the Upper East Side blends seamlessly into the Art Deco environment of this landmark building constructed in the 1930s and designed by architect Rosario Candela. Assisted by Patrick Naggar, Frédéric Malle decided to pay homage to the style of Jean-Michel Frank, one of his major influences. This sober and refined style allows for a mix of genres, bridging contemporary and antique elements. Jean-Michel Frank serves as an even more fitting inspiration given the convergence of eras.
For the furniture, Frédéric Malle chose family heirlooms: the desk and armchairs of his grandfather, designed by Jules Leleu, as well as the large pink sofa from the apartment where he grew up on Rue de Courty, in Paris. In contrast, the three brushed steel scent columns express a high-tech character. Just like in the historic boutique on Rue de Grenelle, the portraits of the perfumers are displayed on the walls, here above the fireplace.

Shop at 898 Madison Avenue, New York

Details from the 21 rue du Mont Thabor, Paris

For the Rome boutique, the decoration is "home made." Frédéric Malle mainly used elements from his New York interior: a moss green carpet, identical to the one in his living room, and black walls, like those in his dining room. Cultivating his taste for mixing styles, he installed a very large bookshelf inspired by the Italian designer Gio Ponti.

As with the Madison Avenue boutique in New York, Patrick Naggar designed the 14 square meter space on Avenue Victor Hugo in Paris. A giant I-beam, inspired by those in the Seagram Building in New York, serves as the central console for displaying the perfumes. On either side, a red metal bookshelf inspired by Donald Judd's work and a scent machine designed by Frédéric Malle, drawing inspiration from the engine design of a Bugatti Royale. At the back, illuminated in perspective, are the famous refrigerated cabinets housing the perfume bottles.

Detail from Frédéric Malle's salon in New York

Inside the store in Via del Babuino 30, Rome

In the boutique on Rue du Mont Thabor in Paris, Jacques Grange provided his expertise to transform what was originally designed to be a print shop. Here, delightful combinations abound: a 17th-century table stands alongside a Louis-Philippe style fireplace, while an authentic painting by Millet converses with a photograph by Brassaï. In contrast, the scent columns are presented with yellow glass paired with black frames, an association inspired by a piece by the artist Takis.

In reality, visiting the boutiques of Editions de Parfums is to discover the richness of their founder's aesthetic universe. It is also a way to understand him better, as these boutiques are deeply imbued with his spirit. A spirit that blends freedom with the pleasure of play, because, as Frédéric Malle aptly puts it: "We would be wrong to take architecture too seriously. To make it enjoyable to live in, we must add that element of play and amusement that belongs to the realm of childhood."

Inside 21 rue du Mont Thabor, Paris

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