An antiques dealer by trade, Florence Lopez is also known for her extraordinary sense of interior design, dreaming up unique universes where wall colours, textiles, antique objects and furniture play off each other to create an energy of their own. Florence likes to use colour to create new perspectives and volumes in a room, or mark out details in architecture. She approaches her by-appointment antiques space — located since 20 years in a modernist rooftop artist’s atelier in Paris’s Saint-Germain des Prés district — like a theatre set, each year wiping the slate clean to compose a new decor. Colour often plays a leading role. Here esensualliving.com catches up with the fiercely private talent (whose client list includes Charlotte Gainsbourg and François Pinault) on the subject of living colour, including her new painterly blue mood.
ESENSUAL LIVING: You’re an antiques dealer by trade, but your vision extends to interior design; you like to contextualize your treasures in sets. Talk to us about your use of colour in these decors.
FLORENCE LOPEZ: I love colour, but I don’t like it when everyone starts doing the same thing. You have to keep surprising yourself. It’s not about following trends, on the contrary, it’s about seeking out unexpected mixes using timeless colours. It’s about coming up with your own palette; when anything becomes a trend it strips away all the charm.
EL: Where does your interest in colour come from?
FL: As an antiques dealer, I want to create a universe that makes my pieces stand out. To begin with it was a support, a way of creating different volumes in my atelier, which I see as a laboratory. I can change the decor every year if I want to.
EL: When choosing colours do you tend to first study them under different lights?
FL: For each space I study the light, as colour transforms in different lights. The subtler a paint colour is, the more it will change aspect at different times of the day.
EL: Do you tend to want to change colours each season?
FL: No. Colour changes across the seasons, under a ray of light or a special light. Even if it’s melancholic, it’s wonderful. Even dirty colours - or dull colours - have their own mystery.
EL: When creating a space what comes first, the wall colour or the furniture?
FL: It depends. Sometimes the colour comes last, but I tend to start with the furniture.
EL: Do you have a favourite colour?
FL: With colour, it’s not a question of saying which ones you like, it’s about the mix you create with objects, furniture and other colours. The emotion comes from the mix, when it all comes together - and sometimes you can’t even explain how. I work a lot on instinct. It can look ugly and you add a piece and suddenly it works. You shouldn’t be scared of compositions that feel a bit strange, you have to push through and get to a point of joy. You feel it when it works.
EL: Do you recall seeing a colour that particularly marked you?
FL: I’ll never forget a colour I once saw in a house in England — a kind of acid green, a bit yellow, a bit chartreuse, but aged by time. Colour ages and that changes everything, colours with a patina are wonderful. The Brits have an incredible sense of colour, they take risks; they’re so original.
EL: Where do you get inspiration?
FL: It can come from an object or the back of an object. For example I have two wonderful earthenware ashtrays in crackled gold and the underneath is a wonderful aged yellow. That kind of thing can get my imagination going. Imagine a pure turquoise, it can be a bit kitsch, it can remind you of the Caribbean or whatever, but if you work the colour with whitewash, say, you can bring it somewhere new. I’ve just done that for a villa in Saint Tropez. It’s also the texture of the colour that’s important.
EL: Are you ever scared of going too far with colour?
FL: I’ve never been scared. It was on an incredible trip to Rajasthan – with all these incredible pinks – that it hit me how dreary our environment is. Even a matte black room makes everything come out, it’s not sad at all. Some colours make you feel like you’re outside; others are more intimate.
EL: You change the decor of your Saint-Germain des Prés atelier around once a year, and like to keep it under wraps. Can you share any clues on your new mood?
FL: I plan to work differently now, to use colours in panels. [Counts] There are 18 tones. It’s an alchemy, a juxtaposition, luminous like a painting; a universe and not just monochrome. It’s a mix of power and lightness.