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SELENE Splendor: Guillaume Coutheillas' Signature Touch on Manhattan's Luxury Condominiums

(Photo of Guillaume Coutheillas by Colin Miller)


Guillaume Coutheillas, hailing from Paris, founded frenchCALIFORNIA in 2016 as an interior design and branding studio with a truly international perspective. This dynamic firm, under his leadership, has cultivated enduring partnerships with premier collectible design and art galleries, real estate developers, and discerning collectors. At the heart of frenchCALIFORNIA's ethos is a diverse team, drawn from various backgrounds and walks of life, collectively infusing projects with a rich tapestry of influences from across the globe. Specializing in turnkey residential renovations, interior furnishings, art curation, concept development, and creative direction, frenchCALIFORNIA stands out for its ability to seamlessly merge cultures and genres into a distinctive design aesthetic. Additionally, the studio operates a Graphic Design and Branding division offering services ranging from brand identity and digital development to floor plan design and wayfinding. Guillaume Coutheillas leaves an indelible mark on the industry as evident at the stylish and inviting frenchCALIFORNIA-designed model residences at SELENE, a luxury condominium tower in midtown Manhattan.  


Photo: Colin Miller


ELEVATE (by Rupi Sood): What were the driving principles behind the interior design of this project?


Guillaume Coutheillas: frenchCALIFORNIA designed two residences within SELENE, complete with full amenities, high design, contemporary art and artfully-minded technology fitted for each unit. frenchCALIFORNIA created spaces that are geared toward a client that is well-traveled and a collector of art and design. The design and art pieces frame windows, accentuating the stunning views and helping to create a feeling of openness. Soft tones and thoughtful lighting create a relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere that is perfect for a family relaxing at home or for when they are entertaining.


Photo: Colin Miller


Describe any challenges you faced during the design process and how you overcame them?


GC: Making use of every space, and delineating different areas within the rooms for specific purposes was a fun challenge. With an open floor plan, we try to create various focal points, using art and furniture that help the potential buyer envision what each area of the home can be used for.


Photo: Colin Miller


Sustainability and environmental considerations are becoming increasingly important in interior design. How has sustainability been integrated into the design of the model apartments at SELENE, and can you highlight any eco-friendly features or materials used in the project?


GC: We always try to purchase from manufacturers who have a sustainable practice or produce pieces that are more sustainable within their collections. The entire space uses eco-friendly paint from our collaboration with COLOR ATELIER, a paint company based between NYC and SF. They are made with the highest quality, eco-friendly ingredients.



Photo: Colin Miller


SELENE is surrounded by modernist architectural landmarks such as the Lever House and the Seagram Building. How did this location influence your design choices to integrate the surrounding cityscape into the interior experience?


GC: We were very inspired by the way light transforms through the length of a day given the building’s position. frenchCALIFORNIA's design for the two SELENE residences feature a muted, tonal color palette comprised of gray, taupe and other neutrals, with airy drapery that further opens up the space. A custom SELENE paint color was realized by frenchCALIFORNIA in collaboration with COLOR ATELIER, along with custom wall coverings from Calico.


Photo: Colin Miller


Can you describe some of the unique and standout design elements within the residences?


GC: The artfully minded residences include collectible design pieces with high European influences hand-picked by frenchCALIFORNIA, featuring renowned makers that include Marcel Breuer, Hans Wegner, Christophe Delcourt and Philippe Starck. Every inch of the residences is made to use, with various zones designated for distinct functions accomplished by ergonomic design and aesthetically minded technology that never compromises style.


Photo: Colin Miller


What was your process for curating the artwork that is on display at this project?


GC: We worked with Circa 1881, a company that produces art programming and exhibitions of world-class contemporary art, to curate pieces specifically for the space that complement our design aesthetics and goals. The works are a combination of mixed media, photography, painting, and sculpture.


Photo: Colin Miller


You collaborated with Smart Tech to integrate technology into the residences. What smart home products do you think homeowners will truly appreciate in contemporary living spaces?


GC: We like to incorporate pieces of technology that seamlessly integrate with the design. Technology should be subtle, without taking away from the overall design aesthetic, while functioning as an extension of the home. We try to create pieces with custom colors that blend into the space whenever possible.


Photo: Colin Miller


In a luxury project like the residences at SELENE, attention to detail is paramount. Could you share some examples of the meticulous details and finishes that contribute to the project's overall luxury and refinement?


GC: Glamorous yet modern lighting fixtures from Michael Anastassiades adorn the spaces along with objects and accessories from iconic brands like cc-tapis, B&B Italia, Cassina, FLOS, and Design within Reach.


Photo: Colin Miller


What advice do you have for making contemporary residences, especially in tall skyscrapers in New York City, feel more cozy?


GC: We like to layer - whether it be layering multiple textures with fuzzy pillows or wool blankets on a couch, or layering with multiple rugs. Layering exudes a feeling of coziness and warmth. We also like to mix the old with the new, combining contemporary design pieces with antique and vintage pieces that work together to tell a story. Collectors today are very educated, and don’t collect pieces from one genre or category, but rather choose pieces that create an exciting mix and align with their different interests. We try to reflect these collecting ideals in our design and choice of furniture.


Photo: Colin Miller


What are some design trends that you think we will see in 2024?


GC: People are realizing it is important to have a high/low mix, and show that luxury design can still feel livable and warm. We try to show our clients how they can live with both a piece of incredible blue-chip art and a CB2 console in one space. These days, collectors are eclectic and like to have a mix of pieces in their spaces from different genres, styles and price-points. We strive to convey this trend through our own designs. There's a growing appreciation for paint techniques that showcase the nuances of skilled artisanship, which can't be emulated by standard mass-production methods. An example is lime wash, a technique that we employ frequently to achieve a textured, deeply nuanced effect that brings a bespoke quality to spaces. We also think that using colors found in nature never go out of style, like natural shades of green, mirroring the eco-conscious trend in interior design that will be big in 2024. These colors, often with earthy undertones, are gaining popularity in paints and furniture finishes. These greens are essential in creating retro, countryside-inspired decor evoking the charm of country houses.



(Marketing & Sales at SELENE by Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group)

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