Moroccan's old Gothic apartment of curious things
Herve Lopez’s house and showroom accommodates a richly diverse miscellany inside a two-floor street-front building in the 18th arrondissement of Paris.
The African quarter of Paris was considered to be cheapest living area a decade ago. And not without reason. One day, Lopez passed an old run-down boutique in the neighborhood.
“It was destroyed, no water, no toilets, no kitchen but the space had the great potential with a five meter high ceiling. It was a great opportunity for me to renovate and furnish everything just as I like. My intention was not to change the space dramatically but to keep the original style of the antique shop from the early 20th century,” Lopez said.
Born in Casablanca in Morocco, French with Spanish origins, Lopez is an art director, film producer and the founder behind Lord of Barbes, a new company producing animation films since 2013. The quirky space is now Herve’s home, studio and the showroom of his newly launched brand — Lord of Barbes Gin & Fragrance.
“After working so many years with different clients, I had decided to launch my own brand of gin as a gin addict myself,” he said. “With this brand, I have the opportunity to do exactly what I like, reflecting my personal spirit.”
In coherence with his production company, the gin brand has been given the same logo and same identity.
“Through my brand I try to express an original vision of the spirits business and bring out the fun side,” Lopez said.
The gin bottle he designs and displays at the first floor of the space is very different from the usual standard. It’s a blue flat flask: The kind of bottle the drunkards drink in “Lucky Luke” comics. The whole space, from the details like the gin bottles, religious objects to the color scheme, is fitted out with all things eerie and quirky, inspired by Tim Burton’s Gothic and eccentric style.
The décor is really unusual: skeletons, religious objects, crucifix, old books, vintage illustrations of monkeys, birds and more make Lopez’s home unlike any other.
“I tried to create an antique Napoleon III style boutique, everything or almost everything is black. It’s also a cabinet of curiosities and on the second level is my apartment,” Lopez said. “I chose wall color in purple as it is the color for cardinals. Even if I’m not religious, I do admit I have a preference for religious art and objects.”
One example is a line-up of Virgin Mary statues Lopez has collected from different places. He favors Napoleon III style of furniture and decorative arts as they are highly eclectic.
“Always painted in black, the style is unique, quirky and charming so I have placed a few Napoleon III style furniture here,” he said. “As a collector, my style is a mixture of many styles. I often go and search particular objects that interest me at ‘Les Puces de Clignancourt,’ the Paris Flea market and buy weird objects and furniture on Le Bon Coin or Ebay. I don’t opt for investment objects as I love to personalize vintage pieces to add a personal twist. My last purchase was a throne.”
Lopez loves to integrate living and working in the same place.
“After my divorce I didn’t have any place to live so I decided to sleep in my office and I enjoyed this lifestyle. When I wake up in the morning, I only have to go downstairs, thus saving a lot of time,” he said.
Nothing in the space is intended to be formal. Each corner is alive and best reflects Lopez’s philosophy of design and personal taste with a sense of humor.
In general, the decoration idea is to make people curious.
“When people pass by and peek through the windows, they often get confused ‘is it an office? Is it a shop? Is it a bar? Is it an apartment? I think people are now looking for a different experience. They want to find unique and rare products and the classic boring shops are over,” he said.
Ask The Owner
Q: What’s the best thing about living in Paris?
A: The girls.
Q: Describe your home in three words.
A: House of Lord.
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?
A: Drink a gin & tonic.
Q: How do you unwind?
A: I drink gin or Pouilly-Fumé wine and listen “Child in Time” by Deep Purple.
Q: Where do you spend most of the time at home?
A: In my office.
Q: What’s the view outside your window?
Q: Where do you source furniture in Paris?
A: Down the street, in Les Puces (the Paris flea market), on Le Bon Coin website, Ebay website ...