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Juan Pablo Molyneux takes classical architecture to a new level

by Michele Koh Morollo on Nov 7, 2017 in Architecture , Interiors , Top Story
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Photo. Durston-Saylor

Photo. Durston-Saylor

Juan Pablo Molyneux's signature blend of creativity and reverence for history have won him a host of high-profile clients

Pablo Picasso once said, "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist". Chi lean-born American interior designer Juan Pablo Molyneux is a man who abides by this dictum, known for his opulent schemes rooted in history. He is responsible for the interiors of the Pavilion of Treaties in Konstantinovsky Palace in St Petersburg and the Russian Rooms of the Palais des Nations in Geneva (both projects commissioned by the Russian Federation), as well as the salons of the Cercle de l'Union Interalliée in Paris, and numerous beautiful private residences in the Americas, Europe, Russia and the Middle East.

History man: Juan Pablo Molyneux is a strong proponent of the rules of classicism (Photo. Antonio Martinelli)

History man: Juan Pablo Molyneux is a strong proponent of the rules of classicism (Photo. Antonio Martinelli)

In a time when modern, minimalist design is all the rage, Molyneux's historically accurate, classical approach is both daring and refreshing. As a trained architect, he believes interior design and landscape are an important
part of architecture as a whole. During his studies at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he developed an interest in detailing the interiors of buildings.

According to Molyneux, historical interiors are impossible to create without an understanding of their cultural context, whereas a designer can develop a contemporary interior easily enough without any prior education. "To create a harmonious, balanced interior, you need to have command of the rules of classicism," he says. "That way, you have the basis for a timeless style that does not obey the caprices of fashion and the moment. Historical styles have more to say in a very consequential way, and can inform contemporary interpretations as well."

Hôtel Claude Passart, the designer's home in Paris

Hôtel Claude Passart, the designer’s home in Paris

Before beginning on a project, Molyneux works first on the volumes and plans for the circulation and lighting; this determines the placement of the furnishing and other fixtures. Next, he defines and selects each furniture and decor item, many of which are bespoke Molyneux designs that are hand made by ébénistes (French cabinet makers), metalworkers, blacksmiths, and other master craftsmen and artisans. "We have extraordinarily talented staff who do wonderfully detailed 3D drawings that allow the client to see each room with all of the finishes and furnishings. Now, we also have the capability to do fully immersive, virtual experiences, where the client can put on goggles and experience being in the proposed room," says Molyneux, who most enjoys working on diplomatic spaces, including the European headquarters of the United Nations, in Geneva.

The lavishly decorated salons of the Cercle de l'Union Interalliée, Paris, are as bold and grand as the organisation itself – a private club that counts royalty and prominent politicians among its members

The lavishly decorated salons of the Cercle de l'Union Interalliée, Paris, are as bold and grand as the organisation itself – a private club that counts royalty and prominent politicians among its members

"I would like to think these spaces have inspired diplomats, world leaders and nations to come up with creative solutions to world problems, in the spirit of cooperation", says Molyneux. He once saw a photograph of Vladimir Putin and George W Bush at the Pavilion of Treaties shaking hands at a table he had designed, and was somewhat overcome. "I am gratified to have designed the stately interior where this historic meeting took place, and where discussions that change the world for the better will occur," he says.

This is an excerpt from the “Classically Modern" article from the November 2017 issue of Perspective magazine.

To continue reading, get your copy of Perspective.

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