A Giant Ribbon of Wood Wraps This Mind-Bending Parisian Apartment

A Giant Ribbon of Wood Wraps This Mind-Bending Parisian Apartment

By Lucy Wang
Sculptural plywood walls weave new life into a 19th-century Parisian apartment while preserving its historic Haussmannien features.

When a young French couple with a child on the way reached out to architect Gabrielle Toledano to renovate their recently purchased apartment in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, the timing was fortuitous.

Toledano had just returned to work from maternity leave, and she was eager to flex her design prowess in reshaping the old apartment into a contemporary abode—without breaking the couple’s relatively modest budget.

The new wooden partition provides a sculptural counterpoint to the historic apartment’s ornate elements and rigid geometry. The original herringbone hardwood floors were refinished throughout.

The new wooden walls stop short of the ceilings, preserving the moldings and the outline of the historic floor plan.

The apartment was built in the late 1800s, and it’s filled with Haussmann-style elements—including elaborate moldings and herringbone hardwood floors—that the clients and architect wanted to highlight.

"The challenge was preserving these layers of history while creating a strong contemporary identity," explains Toledano. "I wanted something young, playful, but still chic…a contemporary architecture that would preserve all the historical elements and confer a strong character to the place while unveiling new uses and a new appreciation of space, suited to its 21st-century inhabitants."

"I think these curves awaken one’s curiosity and make them question the space—and by extension, other matters of life," says Toledano. "The clients are very sensitive to art and design, and I wanted them to feel like they were living in an art piece—one that they can make evolve through time and shape according to their way of life."

The view from the dining area toward the front entrance shows the wooden ribbons on either side. "The fluidity of the space encourages and fosters movement as well as creativity," says Toledano.

The design solution became clear after Toledano contemplated tearing out the original partition walls—in their place, she inserted two "wooden ribbons." These sculptural plywood walls hold built-in storage, and they’re designed to make the clients feel as though "they were living in an art piece."

Informed by the clients’ programmatic needs, the curved walls were prefabricated in a carpenter’s workshop from laser-cut plywood sheets and then bent with custom molds. The panels were assembled on-site within a day.

The kitchen sink and appliances are hidden behind folding wooden panels that close flush to give the wooden ribbon a seamless appearance.

A kitchen island made of large Travertino Santa Caterina porcelain slabs from Ariostea breaks up the timber palette. Also pictured are Hay Cornet stools and a Baxter-Hubble lighting fixture.

Flanking the entrance corridor, the two wooden ribbons delineate the master suite and dressing room on one end of the apartment, while carving out space for a large nursery, a full bathroom, and a powder room on the other. A spacious light-filled living room and an eat-in kitchen take up the remainder of the 1,400-square-foot apartment.

"I wanted to create something abstract—not just regular partition walls and closets," explains Toledano. "Not an addition of elements, but one big concept that solves all the problems."

A view of the kitchen with the panels closed.

Minimalist TUNI LED wall lights from SFEL are installed throughout the home. Below are a row of radiators from Varela design.

Shop the Look
Offi Birch Magazine Stand
Molded and folded to keep your favorite magazines close at hand. Use in the bathroom, living room, home office, reception area...you name it, this organizer is perfect for the office or home.
Alessi Diva Watering Can
Sculptural watering can from Alessi. Thermoplastic resin. Curved water reservoir. Integrated handle and spout. Logo at base.
Lzf Lamps Nut Pendant
The LZF Nut Pendant uses the most minimal twist and turn of a ribbon of wood veneer to create an elegant, intertwined silhouette. The simplicity of the shade's design creates an airy appearance, while the overlapping wood grain texture confers a pleasant warmth and glow.

"I like how the ribbons mimic the movements of the waves," says Toledano. "They create a tension in the entrance, and open up to the wide living room and dining room, and the big windows."

"From there, you can see the city of Paris, with a beautiful light even when the weather is gray, which is quite common in Paris. So it’s like this ribbon accompanies you and takes you to admire the city. You are in a completely different world, but also still in Paris, in this Haussmannien building and apartment."  

The home’s original double-sided fireplace divides the living room from the eat-in kitchen.

A long linear balcony runs the length of the light-filled living room. The Foxy sofa by Ana Roque Interiors echoes the curves of the wooden ribbon. A SANAA Rabbit Ears chair adds whimsy.

The wooden ribbon features integrated storage. The display shelves are backed by decorative brass panels by Egger.

Massive gray onyx-style porcelain tiles give the master bath a luxurious appearance. "The tiles for the bathroom and kitchen were so hard to get to the fifth floor with a tiny elevator," notes the architect. "They were three meters by one-and-a-half meters, and getting them upstairs and cutting them on-site was really complicated."

A peek inside the master suite dressing room. As with all the bathrooms, the dressing room is topped with a new ceiling made from alveolar polycarbonate. "It imparts a fun twist and provides some natural light to all the areas behind the wooden walls, except for the bedrooms," adds Toledano.

For a playful touch, the children’s rooms feature surfaces made of white and orange resin.

Wood Ribbon Apartment former floor plan

Wood Ribbon Apartment floor plan

Wood Ribbon apartment section

Wood Ribbon apartment section

Wood Ribbon apartment section

Related Reading:

30 Comforting Interiors That Have Us Pining for Plywood

8 Bodacious Homes With Curves for Days

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Toledano + Architects / @gaby.toledano

Builder/General Contractor: Augusta

Structural Engineer: Marc Malinowsky-Groupe Alto


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