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In the Family

Cannes, France

Combining three apartments into one elegant space was the challenge that Caprini & Pellerin Architectes met for a family flat in the French Riviera

Offering dramatic views of the Bay of Cannes, the Lerins Islands and the Esterel Mountains, this project is a family affair. The owners of this two-story apartment —located in an iconic building designed in the 1970s in a brutalist/modernist style by architects Sir Basil Spence and Eugène Lizero — are Nicolette, an interior designer and artist, and Christian, an entrepreneur and wine lover. They are the mother and stepfather of Jerry Pellerin — who cofounded Caprini & Pellerin Architectes with Kevin Caprini.

“Jerry designed a tailor-made home for us, which reflects both our personalities,” says Nicolette. “He knows us inside out. The apartment feels like home and comprises all the objects we collected over the years. My son took great care in making space for them. Our home is spectacular and ideal for entertaining yet comfortable and a real place of respite.”

Getting to this point, however, was not an easy task. Organizing three different apartments into one elegant space of 357 square meters (plus an exterior area of 200 square meters) was one of the biggest challenges for Caprini & Pellerin Architectes. It took 18 months to make it a reality.

“The three apartments were very distinct, with partitioned spaces and different ceiling heights,” Caprini says. “Important structural work had to be done to break up the existing volumes and connect them together.”

Our home is spectacular and ideal for entertaining yet comfortable and a real place of respite

The architects created a 23-meter long corridor — with small niches to display Nicolette’s ceramic collection — and structured the entire project around it. “One of the owners’ main expectations was to let in as much natural light as possible and make the most of the sea views in the living areas,” Pellerin says.

A single colour — sand — was used throughout to highlight every object and furniture piece — by Niels Otto Møller, Honoré Deco, Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, Berthold Müller, and Kelly Wearstler, among others — while green touches in the lounge and entrance (with plants), in the kitchen credenza wall (with Moroccan zellige handmade enamel tiles) and in the master bathroom wall (with handmade feather tiles that echo the outdoor palm leaves) create contrasts. Five main materials — ash gray Dordogne stone, travertine stone, oak wood, walnut wood, and bronze — complement the cohesive look while reflecting materiality and craftsmanship.

Inspired by the brutalist architecture of the building characterized by its oculus windows and arches, Caprini & Pellerin Architectes introduced vaulted ceilings and arched doors — made by the Compagnons de France — in the interior spaces. The Incas was also a reference. “We reinterpreted this craftsmanship through the materials to give character to the apartment,” Pellerin says. For example, the stones on the floor were aged by hand, and the walls and ceilings were hand plastered with limestone.

“I gave my sons free reigns and he completely understood our dream,” confesses Nicolette, who worked as an interior designer for 35 years. “We wanted to create a vintage feel in synch with the existing building to give the feeling that this home has always been here,” Caprini adds.

And this was just the beginning. “We recently purchased the apartment above, where I will create my yoga room, my atelier and another bedroom,” Nicolette says. For the next phase of this project, which will start soon, it comes as no surprise that Caprini & Pellerin Architectes will be on the frontline.