PHOTOGRAPHY HANS & ALAÏA FONK | TEXT HANS FONK

High fashion and art in one – that defines his design style. He rocketed to world renown when a celebrated French fashion designer asked him to remodel his Los Angeles home. Several more houses were to follow – in Los Angeles, Miami and Paris, as well as the interiors of the fashion designer’s yacht and private jet. He has worked with David Guetta and has designed Rihanna’s Doheny Estates house in Los Angeles. He lives high above West Hollywood in a penthouse, which is a spectacular reflection of his approach to work.  Art – lots of art – is integrated in an interior that itself is a work of art. Maxime Jacquet’s star is rising at lightning speed. The young designer hails from Belgium, but today he calls Los Angeles his home.

Maxime Jacquet’s penthouse is located in the Sunset Vine Tower in West Hollywood, Los Angeles. When he first saw the apartment it was practically empty, a cold space without personality. The materials used were simple and classic. The internal arrangement was basic, the colours off-white. The space was intended to have the ambience of an elegant loft – a Los Angeles loft, less ‘industrial’ than one in New York.

“When I came here the first time, I felt like a child in a sweet shop. The rooms were spacious, with large windows. I knew right away that I could create something here that would blow everyone away. As it was, the apartment was devoid of character. Now it has a great deal of character, because, starting from nothing, I have been able to add everything. I particularly wanted dark walls and colour, lots of colour. People told me to use a minimum of furniture, to leave the view unspoilt. I was convinced that in the end you get used to the view, whereas the interior you live in is something that affects you directly – the art, the fabrics, textures, objects are constantly changing and they speak to you”, to use Maxime’s own words.

“For me, colour is very important. I love dark colours because they give you a feeling of security. Not black, but all the variations on warm, dark shades. In my work an important first step is to determine the colour and texture of the walls. The second step is the art. An interior without art is like a person without personality.

I couldn’t possibly create something without art. You must express who you are as a person, and art plays an important part in that. That’s why one of the chief aspects of an interior project is the art you select together with your clients. You must take time to discover what they like.”

His own apartment, with views over the whole of Los Angeles, from the hills to the sea, is living proof of his views on art. The space comprises a large central area, which also houses the kitchen with cooking island. Flanking the living room there are two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms. Artworks are scattered throughout the apartment. Hermès Birken and Louis Vuitton suitcases have been placed, seemingly carelessly and liberally, as objects in the interior. He clearly has a preference for everything vintage.

Maxime: “I’m a real collector. I buy everything that appeals to me and I don’t look at the price. Art and attractive things come at a price, but it’s all about what those objects mean to you. It seems full here, but if I see something beautiful I buy it. There’s always room for beauty.”

His star has risen rapidly. He was born in Belgium in 1992 and, when he was a child, travelled the world with his parents. He studied art and history in the Belgian city of Leuven. At that stage he was a restorer of art objects. A website with photos of his own interior was reason enough for a French fashion tycoon to commission him to design the interior of one of his homes in the city where Jaquet longed to live: Los Angeles. Those assignments formed the foundations for his fame. He was just 19 years old.

“I’d often been to LA and knew it was where I wanted to live. When the request came in I said ‘yes’ right away. I’d no idea how to tackle it, hardly spoke the language, but I wasn’t apprehensive because I knew I could design something special to reflect his personality. That’s just what I did and in that same year I did a couple more projects for the same client, including a yacht and a private jet.” Maxime’s basic principle is clear: “I follow my passion. Important sources of inspiration are fashion and the street scene.

I do things stemming from my own creative mood. I don’t care what other people have to say. I’m not scared of doing things people have never seen before. After that first big job, everything snowballed and it’s never stopped! In recent years I’ve been able to set up a team to put my ideas into effect.”

And he went on: “The guiding principle is always to create a liveable, attractive and contemporary interior. In my mind interiors are not timeless. Some things you keep your entire life because you like them. Not because they’re timeless. Timelessness isn’t a big deal for me. I design things to be enjoyed now. I always tell my clients that their taste changes, as does their lifestyle. And that also changes the interaction with the interior. I tend to be someone who looks at what’s happening in the street and in fashion. They influence the way I see design – it’s the way I live.”