Dora Hart Eclipses Airspace with Timeless Parisian Charm

Dora Hart's new project at a residence in Giraudoux, France refreshingly pushes back on the airspace aesthetic. All photos courtesy the designer


January 31, 2024

For the last decade interior design has often fallen into the trap of “airspace,” a term coined by the critic Kyle Chayka to describe a predominantly white, bland, and familiar space that transports a person to the same interior no matter where they are in the world. Dora Hart, however, has a new project at a residence in Giraudoux, France that refreshingly pushes back on the airspace aesthetic. Though she brings familiar colors and comforts into her interior, she never lets the tenant forget that they are in Paris.

Dora, who has a background in architecture, built up experience at companies like Studio Ko and Agence Jacques Garcia before founding her own architecture and scenography agency in Paris. In her own work she dials into her client’s personality while also pulling the outside environment indoors. For this project it means honoring the characteristics of Haussmannian architecture, which has defined Paris’ charming personality since the 19th century.

“My client … is the embodiment of the modern and cosmopolitan woman,” Dora says. “Her boundless curiosity, driven by a passion for art, design, and cinema, constantly propels her to explore new horizons. Independent, free-spirited, and open-minded, she lives and breathes creativity in all its forms. Our collaboration with her has been a rich and stimulating experience, marked by a synergy of ideas and a passionate exploration of aesthetics and functionality.”

For the Giradoux residence in Paris’s16th arrondissement she brings in design elements from the Arc de Triomphe—a stone’s throw away in the 8th arrondissement. The Arc’s frieze is echoed throughout the restored ornamental plaster, the tiled ceiling in its archways in the guest bathroom’s terra-cotta tiles by Fired Earth London, and the gridded pattern of the stone facade matched in the kitchen via bespoke eucalyptus wood cabinets with mirrored baseboards by La Fabrique Verdrel.

The gilded touch of the baseboards is complemented by Mériguet-Carrère Workshops’ custom painted metallic effect, which is applied to some of the cabinetry. In this sun-filled apartment light bounces off the shimmering surface, warming up the marble counters. Metallic finishes also shine in a historic, curved staircase, which Dora restored with a palladium leaf covering. The reflective surface leads to a dramatic entrance every time you enter the common areas.

Dora’s expertise in scenography plays a major role in the guest bedroom, where the artist Yann Lacroix has covered the entire room with a custom mural of cockatiels perching on trellises and peach trees. The predominantly green and blue mural brings in a calming effect, and its vibrant palette pulls from French Rococo while the lines are rendered in a style that matches the Neoclassical Arc de Triomphe.

Lush color continues into the guest bathroom, with a burgundy color blocked over terra-cotta tile. Vintage gold fixtures keep the room luxurious and decadent. The guest room is more avant-garde and colorful than the primary bedroom; a maximalist would claim this space and put visitors in the more refined and understated primary. In that room Dora has staged an Alvar Aalto armchair (1898-1976) beside her own custom slatted headboard and low-hanging pendant reading light.

Dora also makes a splash in the living room, which comes together with careful curation like glazed stoneware vase by Annie Maume, a restored gilding on a Louis XVI painted trumeau mirror over the fireplace, and original furniture. She designed the scalloped rug, which resembles the gradation of cowhide, in collaboration with Galerie Diurne, as well as the bean-shaped neutral sofa, crafted by Phelippeau Tapissier.

Balancing a client’s taste with a personal style is often difficult for interior designers, but Dora was in luck with her adventurous patron. The Giraudoux apartment escapes airspace in favor of a distinctly French design.

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