I grew up in Tbilisi, Georgia, in a cozy apartment in a 1960s Soviet-period building with a modest courtyard and a nice view over the city. My favorite part of my home was a huge library with a wide selection of books on architecture, art history, and, of course, Russian classics by Pushkin, Lermontov, and Tolstoy.
The sofa in the sitting room is covered in a velvet, the brass nesting tables are vintage, and the vintage bronze consoles and mirrors are Italian. The curtains are of an embroidered silk, the wallpaper is by , the 1925 ceramic bowl is by , and the Venetian glass decanters are from the 1960s.
The first time I saw an interior-design magazine was when I was 17 or 18 years old. I was so impressed that I began searching for more and more books on design history. Eventually, I went to Moscow to study at Details Design School, and three years ago, I started my own interiors firm. I actually got a degree in economics in Georgia before moving to Russia, but these days, I’m mainly very good at spending money!
A 1970s French faux bamboo–and–gilt bronze bench sits beneath a Marc Cavell artwork in the dining room.
All of my work is residential, and most of my clients are in Moscow. But I have designed several international projects, including an 1880s apartment in Barcelona and a 1950s villa in Cannes, France, that was entirely rebuilt.
This London duplex apartment is owned by a Russian couple. He is a businessman, and she is a well-known fashion blogger. (I’m also doing a larger place for them in Moscow.) It is in Kensington, in a modern building overlooking Hyde Park that is surrounded by neoclassical homes. They have three young kids and travel to London often, usually for just a few days at a time. But they prefer not to stay in a hotel and can afford to maintain a home there, so why not?
In the opposite corner, the 1980s chaise is by , the turquoise-and-brass tables are by , the 1960s floor lamp is Italian, and the pastel on paper is by .
The wife told me she needed a nice, relaxed place that did not feel too London-ish. I know what she means: In a place where there are such cloudy skies, it makes no sense to have a gray interior. What I love most about this client is her sense of color. She is very keen on it. She shares my love for furnishings from the 1950s to the 1970s. Here, 80 percent of the furniture is vintage and was purchased mainly in Paris and London.
The dining room’s 1940s oak sideboard and 1960s ceramic lamps are French. The Japanese screen is from the 16th century, and the brass-and-glass chandelier is 1980s Italian.
The design started with the carpets. I consider a carpet to be the largest painting in a room, and I designed two silk ones for the dining and sitting rooms. The patterns were inspired by a Japanese Art Deco antique.
In the sitting room of a London apartment designed by Irakli Zaria, the three armchairs are from the 1960s, the cocktail tables and custom screens are by , and the 1970s Pino Signoretto vase is Venetian. The silk rug and gilt mirror are both custom, and the drypoint print on the mantel is by .
That was the launching point for a palette consisting of shades of turquoise, including the Dominique Kieffer velvet that covers the Galerie Glustin sofa in the sitting room. I was amazed by the sculptural shape, a tribute to Jean Royère, one of my favorite designers from the ’40s and ’50s.
The daughter’s custom bed is covered in a bedspread made from a silk. The bench, Italian glass-and-brass cabinet, and Murano lamp are all from the 1970s, the silk carpet and plaster-relief clouds are custom, and the 1950s chandelier is by Carlo Scarpa.
I always incorporate Japanese and Chinese art and antiquities in my designs. Here, there are two golden screens from Japan. One is a 16th-century piece with inserts of 15th-century Chinese love letters. It hangs in the dining room, offsetting the vintage raffia Milo Baughman chairs—he’s one of my favorite designers from the 1970s—and a Karl Springer table that looks like marble but is actually goatskin covered in many layers of lacquer. The other screen, from the 17th century, hangs above the headboard in the master bedroom and gives the room a vibrant, warm feeling.
In the master bedroom, the custom headboard is in a velvet, the nightstand is from the 1970s, and the 1935 leather lamp is by . The screen is 17th-century Japanese, and the metallic raffia wallcovering is by .
In Russia, my clients love asking about every detail of the design process—even the minor ones. This was the rare project where I can say that, yes, the clients were involved, but they also gave me so much freedom. When you have the trust of your clients, it’s really priceless.
This story originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of ELLE Decor.