The name Humbert & Poyet keeps cropping up in design circles. Based in both Paris and Monaco, the studio is known for the refined, bold designs of Beefbar restaurants around the world, including Hong Kong. Each has a distinctive visual concept and identity that are inspired by its location, thanks to Emil Humbert (right) and Christophe Poyet’s trademark knack for translating complex 3-D ambiences. Writer Y-JEAN MUN-DELSALLE finds out more. In Beefbar Paris, Emil Humbert and Christophe Poyet used an existing art nouveau interior as the backdrop for their meticulously opulent design. In Beefbar Mexico, they installed black wood and bronze panelling, custom alabaster lighting, leather walls and a raw granite bar.
For couturier Alexis Mabille’s Parisian boutique, the Humbert & Poyet studio thought of the space with cinema decor, imagining plays of mirrors, geometry and textiles that emphasised the creator’s glamorous spirit.
Obsessed with attention to detail, the two 30-something founders even design most of the furniture pieces and lighting themselves to offer a total experience to clients across the globe, creating spaces not dependent on time and trends, and expressing an urban Mediterranean lifestyle.
They represent a new definition of luxury – one that’s understated yet theatrical, less austere and more enjoyable, mixing eras, from classicism to modernism. Like directors, they design every project like a movie or stage set, with the interiors transporting users and allowing them to immerse themselves in the space, aiming to create a scene with the best lighting and the best decor to tell the right story.
The Humbert & Poyet adventure was born from a meeting between two men, two skills and two visions of the profession. Raised in Paris, Emil is the son of an advertising executive and a ballet dancer. Monaco- born Christophe learnt to compose visually from his photographer grandfather.
“We both come from families who practised art professionally or personally,” says Christophe. “We can’t remember the first time we realised design was important in our lives. Creating and designing have just always been present.”
A mutual friend introduced the Paris-trained duo in 2007, when Emil had set up his architectural firm and Christophe had just finished studies in interior design. They joined forces to set up Humbert & Poyet a year later, believing they were stronger as a duo rather than each working independently.
They already shared the same influences and aesthetic: modernism, mid-century Italian architecture and design, Art Deco, 1950s and ’70s design icons, and Hollywood glamour, as well as artisanal savoir-faire.
“It was natural. I instantly knew we’d work together,” discloses Emil. “We share a common vision, with a great interest in the arts and craftsmanship. Our approach to design is the same: creating compositions and mixing periods. We are always exchanging ideas and challenging ourselves – and in constant evolution. When in front of your equal, with mutual respect for each other’s opinions, the creative process is richer.” Better Together
Both passionate about 20th century high-end decoration, travel, fashion and contemporary art, and art collectors themselves, the pair has fashioned a spectacularly luxurious universe based on blends of marble, wood, bronze and brass. “Brass, in particular, is a signature of ours. We enjoy exploring all of its finishes: brushed, fluted, toothed and matte,” notes Christophe. “We use brass to highlight and value the other noble materials it is paired with.”
Right from the start, they were successful, thanks to restaurant and store projects in Monaco, which ensured them exceptional visibility. Their effectiveness lies in complementary specialisations: Emil is a qualified architect from the Parisian National School of Architecture and Christophe, an interior designer, who studied at Charpentier Academy’s Interior Architecture/Design School of Applied Arts in Paris.
Their combined expertise allows them to design both the envelope as well as the interior of a place to offer a global perspective.
“Our approach starts with inspirations, research and connecting these elements to spaces, and then translating the inspirations into form and material,” explains Emil. “Each project is individual. It’s a balance and an exchange. We are appreciative of all the trust clients give us and the freedom we have to express ourselves creatively. The most challenging aspect of design can be structural, with architectural restoration or spaces where there are limitations, and we have to work around these constraints. But this is often the most rewarding process, too.”
Art in Living
As artisanal creations Emil and Christophe have custom-designed exclusively for clients appear prominently in all of their firm’s projects, they decided last year to release their first line of furniture, lighting and objects for the Invisible Collection, an online platform selling the works of major figures of contemporary design, which includes armchairs, tables, mirrors and lamps inspired by the Art Deco movement.
“We decided to launch our collection to reflect our aesthetic and appreciation of design,” states Christophe. “All the partners we work with are in Italy. Our clientele includes international design aficionados of all ages.” Favouring noble materials, they play with shapes as well as finishes so each piece becomes a unique piece of art.
Today, they lead a team of 20 in Monaco and Paris tasked with working on over 30 hospitality, commercial and residential commissions. Recently completed projects include Ultimate Provence, a wine estate in the south of France, and Beefbar Malta, the first beach club concept for the Beefbar brand.
In the pipeline are two luxury hotels in South Korea, new restaurant concepts in New York, London, Milan and Athens, and 26 Carre Or – an ultra-luxe, 19-storey residential tower in Monte Carlo. Located near the Place du Casino, it is the pair’s largest project yet. Showcasing shades of beige, grey and ivory enhanced by luxury marble features, dark woodwork and precious bronze and copper inserts, it will offer panoramic views over Monaco’s landmarks.
Emil and Christophe are designing all the interiors – from the lobby to the four-level penthouse, contributing to the facade that will showcase rounded Corian balconies, and even fitting the underground car park with brass mesh walls and lighting because they feel that the garage should be just as elegant as the rest of the project.
1. Humbert & Poyet’s neoclassical bathroom for the AD Interieurs 2019 showcase.
2. Their Quartiers Mirror (right) and Structure I Lamp for The Invisible Collection, an online platform selling curated pieces by some of the world’s best interior designers.
3. The duo’s brass dining table in a Rue des Archives Paris apartment.
4. The Hoxton, Paris guest bedroom.
5. The Wine Palace concept store in Monaco has 2,300 bottles as part of the decor.
“BRASS, IN PARTICULAR, IS A SIGNATURE OF OURS. WE ENJO Y EXPLORING ALL OF IT S FINISHES: BRUSHED, FLUTED, TOOTHED AND MATTE.”
– CHRISTOPHE POYET
6. The rich textures of the Beefbar Dubai.
7. Humbert & Poyet’s polished brass Ava Floor Lamp for The Invisible Collection stands elegantly on a travertine base.
After the success of the first Beefbar in Monaco, the concept went global. Proposing an intimate ambience reminiscent of gentlemen’s and wine tasting clubs, the Beefbar restaurants worldwide use materials that are simple, raw and premium: black wood and bronze panels, Humbert & Poyet-designed alabaster lighting, natural granite bars, earth-toned leather walls and Murano glass chandeliers.
RUE DES ARCHIVES APARTMENT IN PARIS
Inspired by the modernist, Art Deco and Memphis movements, paired with classicism, Humbert & Poyet used marble, terrazzo, wood and brass to create a sophisticated family home conducive to entertaining and decorated with beautiful mouldings, an elegant chimney, mid-century and contemporary furniture and modern art.
THE HOXTON, PARIS
Following on from London and Amsterdam, the 171-room hotel pays homage to French craftsmanship from two crucial eras in Parisian history. The guestrooms combine a classic Parisian spirit with a 1950s atmosphere referencing small industrial workshops, while the cornices, wainscoting and herringbone parquet evoke the building’s original 18th century grandeur.
CHALET IN GSTAAD
The three-storey ski chalet panelled in rustic reclaimed barn wood showcases open spaces on the top floor to take advantage of mountain views, veined marble bathrooms, a blue limestone fireplace, a cage-like wood and brass staircase, dark-stained oak floors, antique and contemporary furniture, cashmere and velvet upholstery, and alabaster light fixtures.
photos FRANCIS AMIAND