Architectural Digest India

IN CONVERSATION

Jean-François Lesage (JFL): I enjoyed the way we worked together. The tone of the voyage was set very quickly. Niels was clear from the beginning that we should speak a sensual language but using clear words so that people don’t lose themselves and it does not become a bazaar. There were 300-year-old objects next to three-month-old ones and it functioned because they expressed similar intensities which connected well.

Niels Schoenfelder (NS): The decorative arts, interiors and architecture are all very closely related. You don’t need the deliberation once you have the idea established. Ninety-nine per cent of the decisions were clear. The atmospheric quality, the principal choice of objects, the laying out of the rooms, the lighting—they’re all elements you think about every day. It was important to let it come through that the exercise was based on Jean-François’s collection, which is very atmospheric.

JFL: My parents were collectors and I spent a lot of my childhood at auction houses, antique stores and art galleries. When I began my career, I started out as an auctioneer (between the ages of 20 and 24), selling everything from contemporary paintings to classical furniture. I’m attracted to objects not for their value or their provenance, but more for the dialogue between them—objects and furniture, their shapes and textures and proportions, which would create a family, and, like any family, be full of diversity.

NS: It’s not an intellectual pursuit about being precise about the study of the history of art. All that is known, but you cannot reduce it to that. Because it is, after all, a personal collection. Jean-François lives with and among these objects. It’s not a room where he goes once in three months to revisit his holdings.

A room

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