Art Deco Luxury Living in Paris
Our building was designed by Chares Plumet (1861-1928), one of the most influential French architects at the turn of the 20th century. His remarkable career culminated with his appointment as chief architect of the 1925 Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, from which we derive the term "Art Deco." Plumet's role at the Exposition was not only to design many of the major architectural elements, but to coordinate a large group of master architects, each of whom espoused radically different aesthetic viewpoints. He was a natural choice for this sensitive task, having collaborated often with other luminaries of the Art Nouveau movement such as Henri Sauvage, Louis Marjorelle, and René Lalique. For purposes of the Exposition, Plumet even managed to reign in the modernist tendencies of his former student, Le Corbusier.
Our building, constructed in 1893, was Plumet's third residential design. Two of its predecessors can still be viewed at 151, rue Legendre and 2 bis rue Léon-Cosnard. Our building exhibits many similarities to Plumet's grander fifth design, completed just a few weeks later at 35, rue de Lévis. Many features of Plumet's mature Art Nouveau style, though not as florid as they would become in later years, are on display in our building—mosaic floors, arched windows, bright red brick contrasting with colorful enameled bricks, decorative stained glass, projecting bays with stone columns, and arching balcony supports that sweep up and away from the facade below. The chief architect of the City of Paris has recently designated this building to be of historical importance as an example of early modern architecture.
A typical 19th century apartment building was intended to house families of various economic means. The ground floor (rez de chausée) was occupied by storefronts and caretakers' lodgings, while the merchants lived just above on the first floor (the second floor in the American system of counting floors). The second floor (étages noble), where our apartment is located, housed the building's wealthiest residents. In your walks around Paris, you may notice that if a building has only one distinguishing architectural feature—a balcony, a stained glass window, etc.—it will almost always be on the second floor. Higher floors housed families of increasingly lesser means all the way up to the attic where servants were packed together in tiny rooms with a shared bathroom in the hall. With the advent of elevators the social strata among different floors has disappeared. Some buildings still have tiny rooms on the top floor, but in our building, the entire floor has been turned into one large apartment with skylights and private elevator access.