Nicolas Graas, whose family has overseen the running of Hermès in Luxembourg city for almost 40 years, loved the penthouse apartment built above the new Hermès shop on Rue Philippe II so much that, he says, he has eventually “ended up living here rather than in my apartment in Brussels”. Wandering around his home, it’s not hard to see why. Designed by the Belgian interior designer, Lionel Jadot, the 160 sq m apartment sprawls luxuriously over two floors and enjoys postcard-perfect views of the Place d’Armes, Luxembourg’s vibrant hub of café culture.
With a two-storey shop designed by Rene Dumas and offices drawn up by Jadot, this is Luxembourg’s only Maison Hermès. The design pays homage to the building’s 17th-century heritage – it was rebuilt by architects Worré & Schiltz in 2005. “Buying an old building in the city centre forced us to rebuild it according to its original plans,” says Graas.
The Hermès company was established in 1837. Blending the classical with the contemporary is one of its strengths, and Jadot’s design details sensitively show this off to beautiful effect. The stone walls are lime-plastered to better bring out its bumpy surface; part of the ceiling is reconstructed in rough concrete. Jadot ingeniously plays with light to open up the apartment, constructing a platform with glass sides for the bed in the top-floor bedroom, allowing light to filter down to the ground floor. “I wanted to steal the view from the sky and have the light come in all over the apartment,” he enthuses. This trickery works – an airy expanse of space has been created.
When Jadot reveals his taste is “very eclectic”, that he is “extremely keen on materials” and that he hates “all polished and flat surfaces that tell no stories,” it comes as no surprise. Here are floors made from whitened, brushed oak, a Zimbabwean granite kitchen unit and sinks made from brushed Massangis stone from Burgundy. The dining-table top, crafted from a single piece of wood from the Philippines, makes a dramatic statement, while a sofa, made from beech and upholstered in velvet and beige cotton, adds a touch of glamour. “I wanted the apartment to have the feeling of a large hotel suite,” says Graas. With its attention to detail and unusual mix of materials, this living space is so much more.
The interior designer
Jadot, 38, began his career working at his family firm, the Belgian sofa and chair manufacturer, Vanhamme. From here he became involved designing interiors for some of the clients. Jadot is also a filmmaker; he made his first short film in 2005. “I am a totally self-made man, driven by the passion of creating,” he says. Graas and Jadot are considering developing additional apartments in Luxembourg together.