10 Questions With Emil Humbert and Christophe Poyet

Founded in 2008 by Paris-born Emil Humbert and Monaco-born Christophe Poyet—who are both passionate about design and fashion—Humbert & Poyet has quickly become one of the world’s top studios with projects such as the Beefbar restaurants (in Monaco, Mexico City, Mykonos and Hong Kong, to name only a few), the Hoxton hotel in Paris, the Aquazzura store in New York City and high-end private residences in different countries.

“We communicate constantly throughout a project,” says Poyet. “The way we complement each other forms the basis of our projects and ensures we achieve a space as we had envisioned it.”

The duo recently designed a vineyard estate in the south of France (Ultimate Provence) and a spectacular villa in Cannes. A few months ago, they also launched their first whole furniture and lighting collection with Maison Pouenat: Metamorphosis. “The collaboration was natural and centered on our common values and our desire to leverage our savoir-faire to uphold craftsmanship at its highest level,” Humbert and Poyet say.

Interior Design: How did the idea of the Metamorphosis collection start and what was your biggest challenge to create it? 

Christophe Poyet: We have been collaborating with Maison Pouenat for the past 10 years and we started to talk about this idea of launching a collection together four years ago.

The idea was to combine our savoir-faire to create a whole collection and launch it at the same time (a première for Emil and I). We wanted to design a series of pieces that would feel alive and in harmony together. We are used to mixing vintage, contemporary and bespoke pieces in the interiors we create so through this collection we also drew our inspiration from different periods and styles: Art Deco, the seventies, and neoclassicism, among others.

ID: How long did it take to create the collection?

Emil Humbert: It took about two weeks to design the collection (full-time). Then we had to select half of the designs and work on all the technical aspects of the pieces with craftsmen who helped us with the specificities of the different materials such as brass and bronze. We wanted to create a light collection that highlights the beauty of metal.

The Metamorphosis collection features pieces made of brass, bronze, plaster, stone, and lacquered wood. Photography courtesy of Humbert & Poyet.

ID: What is the overall aesthetic of the collection and what makes it unique? 

CP: I think it’s a very poetic collection with names inspired by the shapes of the pieces themselves such as the Hug chair or the Deer sconce. Every object gives tribute to a specific era or designer we admire including Paavo Tynell, Jean Royère and Josef Hoffmann. In this collection, we mixed glossy and matte, and smooth and rough materials.

ID: What type of materials and colors did you use in this collection and why? 

EH: Brass, bronze, plaster, stone and lacquered wood combine and create contrasts. We introduced just a few touches of color as we wanted to design pieces that would fit many different types of spaces—from contemporary to classic interiors.

Metal details offer contrast to the chair's textural upholstery. Photography courtesy of Humbert & Poyet.

ID: How do you complement each other in your daily work? 

CP: We are constantly working and creating together. We exchange ideas and concepts on a daily basis. Throughout the years, we’ve really developed a common aesthetic.

ID: What is your first memory of design? 

EH: It might seem a little bit strange but when I was 18 years old, I visited the Brion cemetery designed by Carlo Scarpa in northern Italy and I was immediately fascinated by the sublime, modernist ‘world’ he had created, with the interplay between light, shadow, and water.

The Metamorphosis collection. Photography courtesy of Humbert & Poyet.

ID: Can you name some people in the industry who inspire you and tell us why?

EH: Jean Royère for his extremely modern—now timeless—collections; and Gio Ponti who, for me, represents the architecture of joy.

ID: In what kind of home do you live? 

EH: I live in a building from the seventies in Monaco. Inside, my apartment reflects the Humbert & Poyet signature—the spaces are relaxed and sophisticated at the same time, as well as family-friendly and flamboyant.

Wall sconces in the collection. Photography courtesy of Humbert & Poyet.

ID: What are some of your upcoming interior projects?

CP: An apartment in Paris (in the Rue de Rivoli), a hotel in Seoul, a Beefbar in New York and a restaurant in Doha, among many others.

ID: What is your dream project?

EH: Designing a big boat!

Each piece is designed to function as livable art. Photography courtesy of Humbert & Poyet.
Each piece features subtle details, such as this lighting fixture. Photography courtesy of Humbert & Poyet.
Soft neutrals offer pops of color throughout the collection. Photography courtesy of Humbert & Poyet.
Hinting at the glamour of Art Deco, each piece features a unique combination of geometric forms. Photography courtesy of Humbert & Poyet.

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