The Art of Aesthetic Imperfection

Meet Hauvette & Madani, the French design team who doesn’t want your home to look designed.



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FRENCH DESIGN DUO Samantha Hauvette and Lucas Madani’s in-demand status belies their creative philosophy. “We don’t want our clients to feel like they’re living in a designer home,” explains Hauvette. Whenever they start a new interiors project, the pair try to imagine a home “that’s been passed on from generation to generation, with everyone adding something to it — your grandmother from the ’50s, your mother from the ’70s, and you,” she says. So even if it’s an empty space with white walls, they make it their mission to give it a warm, layered, lived-in feel by adding as much patina as possible, typically by way of wall paneling, a diverse mix of furniture, and pieces that seem a little weathered or imperfect.

In other words, the two aim to create spaces that feel like they evolved organically over time rather than being someone’s concept piece. A recent residential project in Paris is a good example. Despite being located inside a very modern, very minimalist landmarked 1930s art deco building, the apartment has a cozy vibe, with mirrored and lacquered-wood walls, pops of rich colors like maroon and marigold, and furniture spanning a mishmash of eras, from a 1920s Pierre Chareau lamp to a 1970s Willy Rizzo coffee table to custom pieces by the designers themselves. Their commercial projects, including Hotel Wallace in Paris and a new restaurant by the Michelin-starred chef Omar Dhiab, share the same feel — comfortable and enveloping, eclectic yet with a strong central vision.



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Last year, they launched a debut Hauvette & Madani furniture collection to showcase those material explorations. Made in limited editions by master craftspeople, the pieces channel French salon culture and the designs of the 1930s and ’70s: circular tables in lacquered wood and brushed aluminum, deco-style burl nightstands, alabaster and braided-raffia sconces, and patinated brass side tables, among others. The collection is impeccably crafted, though in practice they like to pair its offerings with works that are a little more off-kilter to make sure no space of theirs ever looks too perfect. “Pieces that are old and hurt, or too kitsch,” says Madani. “We like accidents,” says Hauvette. “Something that doesn’t fit or was fabricated crooked. That’s how you create something that has a soul.”


That vision, Hauvette and Madani say, revolves primarily around materials. Back when they met at the École Camondo design school in Paris, their shared love of materials is what brought them together and convinced them to start their own studio in 2010, immediately after graduation. “We were babies at the time — we didn’t have a style,” recalls Hauvette. “We just knew we loved beautiful materials: the marbles, the woods. That ended up driving our practice, and now we just look at a material we have and say: OK, I want to use this; where can I put it?” For each space, they typically work with their artisans in Paris to uncover unique tones or wood finishes they can use for built-ins, or for the wall paneling that’s become their signature, and then develop a palette of colors and furnishings around it.


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Our Contributors

Monica Khemsurov Writer

Monica Khemsurov is a design editor and creative strategist living between New York City, Los Angeles, and Berlin.

Lucas Madani Photographer

Lucas Madani is one half of the design firm Hauvette & Madani, which he runs with Samantha Hauvette. Together they work on high-end interiors projects in France and abroad.


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