Interior designer Laura Gonzalez: ‘What I like isn’t always what I need’
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My personal style signifier is bohemian, a mixture of patterns, jewels, kimonos and long La DoubleJ dresses. I wear necklaces, bracelets and a ring on every finger. Often I’ll bring jewellery back from my travels, but I also go for pieces by Gas Bijoux, Begüm Khan and Cartier. I like having an accumulation of different styles.
And on my wishlist is a painting by American artist Wayne Pate – particularly Etruscan Urn In Polychromy And Partial Plastering For Restoration No II. I love everything about his work. It’s delicate, graphic and subtly surrealistic.
The place I can’t wait to go back to is Belmond Hotel Splendido in Portofino. I spent an amazing weekend there with my husband two years ago. You can explore the area on a little Vespa or have lunch on a private boat near San Fruttuoso Bay. La Terrazza, the hotel’s restaurant, serves the perfect tomato pasta, which they’ve named after Elizabeth Taylor. You feel like you’re back in the ’70s when you’re there. It’s timeless.
And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is a collection of glassware from the Gordiola Glass shop in Palma de Mallorca. When I travel I buy jewellery, of course, but I also collect a lot of tableware – plates, glasses and cutlery. I bought this colourful collection two summers ago.
The best book I’ve read in the past year is Villa Kérylos by Adrien Goetz. It’s set in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, near where I grew up in the south of France. Reading it at a time when travel was strictly limited reminded me of how beautiful it is there. It’s a very special place.
A recent “find” is Nicolette Johnson, a Brisbane-based ceramic artist. She makes big vases with beautiful little sculpted ripples and studs on them. It’s amazing work.
My style icon is Iris Apfel. She helped redesign the White House for nine different presidents. I like that she’s just herself – and so funny, even at 99. I’m not really a “fan” kind of person – different things look good on different people – so Iris is an accidental icon for me.
If I didn’t live in Paris, the city I would live in is Paris. Before the pandemic, I might have said London or New York, but now I want to be close to friends and family. One of the most exciting projects I’ve taken on was renovating the Saint James Paris hotel in the 16th arrondissement, using French artisans like sculptor Patrice Dangel, who made the contemporary plaster chandeliers. The three best things in Paris are the museums, theatres and restaurants. Brasseries are part of Paris’s DNA. My favourite is La Poule Au Pot by Jean-François Piège. The food is very simple – asparagus and oeufs mimosa – and they always bring you a plate of fries. It’s just real French bistro food, which is so important to Parisians.
The last music I downloaded was “What a Fool Believes” by The Doobie Brothers. I want to dance every time I hear it.
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a pair of sturdy Loewe hiking-style boots with rubber soles. I’m seven months pregnant, so it’s a little complicated buying clothes at the moment. What I like isn’t always what I need. But these boots are my best companions when I visit construction sites.
The last thing I bought and loved was a necklace from Ivarene, which makes jewellery from precious stones. The founder, Elisa Battistini, is a friend. This style hangs close to my neck and is made from green vesuvianite. I never take it off – not for showering, swimming or sleeping. It’s like a lucky charm. €310, ivarenegems.com
I have a collection of crystals, which I keep around my home and office. I usually buy them from Marché Paul Bert Serpette in Saint-Ouen, near Paris. My favourite is pink and heart-shaped. I also own 50 boxes of butterflies, which my father gave me when I graduated from my architecture studies. I particularly love the deep-blue wings of the Morpho menelaus species.
In my fridge you’ll always find fresh fruit and vegetables, dry white wine – Chablis or Pouilly Fumé – and Matshi hot sauce. I can’t eat without spice.
I’ve recently discovered Chapelle Saint-Pierre in Villefranche-sur-Mer. I’ve been reading a lot about the French Riviera lately, and found out about this little chapel covered in drawings by Jean Cocteau. It was a 14th-century fishermen’s chapel, but he completely revamped it with his unique style of drawing. It’s a very unexpected space.
The beauty staple I’m never without is Eau de Sens by Diptyque. When I arrive at my office in the morning, people know I’m there because they can smell my perfume. It’s soft, feminine and fresh at the same time. I also love Tata Harper’s clean line of beauty products, and I’ll never leave the house without Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Lip Balm. My mother wore it, so now I wear it too. Diptyque Eau de Sens, £102 for 100ml EDT, diptyqueparis.com. Eight Hour Cream Nourishing Lip Balm, £20, elizabetharden.co.uk
An indulgence I would never forgo is truffle. I have it with everything – on pasta, in cheese, on bread. I particularly like white truffle from Alba in the Piedmont region of Italy, which is fantastic on eggs.
The best gift I’ve given recently is an art deco rosewood piano to my husband, Benjamin, a music lover. He started playing a year ago, but has learnt faster than I did with 10 years’ worth of lessons. The piano is Danish and dates back to the 1950s. It arrived on the morning of Christmas Eve, which turned out to be an event for the whole family.
And the best gift I’ve received recently is a green straw marquetry box made for me by L’Atelier Jallu. I use it for keeping my jewellery inside – or sometimes just as a decorative box. Everything is always changing in my home.
The gadget I couldn’t do without is my Sonos Move speaker. You can bring it anywhere – the bathroom, the garden, the living room. I use it every day. £399, sonos.com
My wellbeing guru is my naturopath Valérie Espinasse, who’s based in Paris. I’m fond of a holistic approach to health.
The podcast I’m listening to is Où est le beau? It’s about art, design and architecture, but sometimes episodes will just be about one material, or an entire design style. I really liked an episode on Maison Jaune Studio and Aurélien Jeauneau. It reminded me of the beautiful memories I have of walking around the flea market of Saint-Ouen last summer, looking for new pieces to inspire my work.
The objects I would never part with are my rings. Each one is a part of my story, and if I forget to wear one, I have a bad day. My favourite is custom-made, inspired by a vintage ring with emeralds and rubies, that my husband had made for me in Paris after the birth of our second child. I also love my Clash de Cartier ring, which makes me feel powerful thanks to its studded, slightly rebellious design. From £1,830, cartier.com
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a doctor. I love taking care of people. I’m also very interested in understanding how the body works. My friends will often call me when they have a problem – it’s like a second job.
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