The opulent space of Hassan Arji’s Paris home is inspired by his rich Moroccan heritage.
At the helm of the Marrakech and Paris-based architecture and design studio Arjitec, Hassan Arji is a busy man who travels the world to supervise luxury residential and hospitality projects. Among his portfolio are the high-end Morocco hotels Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay in Fnideq; the Hilton Tangier Al Houara Resort & Spa; the Ritz-Carlton Rabat, Dar es Salam; as well as private houses in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. When he needs to recharge, Arji comes home to his apartment situated in the chic Saint-Honoré neighborhood in Paris’s eighth arrondissement. “It was hard to find a space for residential use in this central area; most of the apartments are occupied by offices of major fashion brands,” Arji shares. Finding the perfect location was not the only challenge, he notes, adding, “I also wanted an apartment in a dilapidated state to allow me to fully express my design.”
Following two years of hunting, Arji finally discovered his ideal space on the third level of a 19th-century building – it had not been used for 40 years. “What sold me was when I discovered that the apartment once belonged to the French architect Joseph-Auguste Lafollye, who built the building to live in and be near the Opera Garnier,” Arji says. Reorganizing the spaces and creating an aesthetic aligned with Arji’s personality necessitated the apartment’s complete demolition before 2018, when he intended to move in. “The challenges consisted of turning a two-bedroom apartment with one bathroom into a three-bedroom apartment with three bathrooms, and avoiding having an open kitchen in the living room,” Arji says. “I was able to resolve this by rethinking the layout fully and by doing some serious structural changes, as I am also an engineer.”
The starting point for the look and feel was a palatial hotel. “I wanted to use all the materials and brands that I often choose for my clients, but that I had never used for myself,” Arji says. “An architect is always frustrated by proposing and selecting things for his clients that he cannot afford at home.” Spread over 140sqm (plus a 20sqm service room on the fifth floor), the space was inspired by both Arji’s heritage and current life. “I grew up in Morocco and France,” he says. “In all my projects around the world – even in the US – there is an ode to the Middle East.” Travel and French art deco with a modern twist also influenced Arji’s design choices. He describes his home as “a patchwork of styles.” For the color palette, the architect expressed his love for neutral tones through the flooring, ceilings, and walls. “Then I usually brighten it up with strong hues in the furniture, curtains, artworks, and accessories,” he explains.
“When I did the private villas at the Four Seasons Marrakech, I used a lovely limestone flooring called Crema Fatima from Portugal,” Arji adds. “This stone has no veins and has a homogeneous cream color, perfect as a ceramic tile. I decided to mix this stone with the ubiquitous Parisian wood floor, which offers a pleasant sensation of hot/cold – not only visually but also when you walk on it.”
Throughout his home and the elements that adorn it, Arji tells a story. “Every time I travel around the world, I try to bring back a quality decorative piece,” he says. “I especially like my bronze hardware; I designed it myself and I had a mold made in Spain that I kept for exclusivity.” The three chandeliers at the entrance are also his own designs, made in Marrakech by a local craftsman.
To create an elegant and cozy atmosphere, Arji sourced a Hugues Chevalier sofa, leather Maison Fey wardrobe doors, Porta Romana lighting, a Porada dining table, and Calligaris chairs. “I like to keep the character of old things while introducing a modern adaptation,” he notes. “The perfect example is the cast iron radiators from the 19th century that I absolutely had to keep. However, I changed the color to white and added modern technology for better heat distribution and lower consumption.”
Feeling like a hotel guest in his own home, Arji is accustomed to ordering breakfast in bed from the bakery downstairs; enjoying his rain shower before going for a walk in the heart of the city, and inviting friends for dinner and having a chef cook in his La Cornue kitchen. “It is my dream home in Paris – but as a designer, I must constantly innovate, improve, and discover new dreams.”
Originally published in the May 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia