Carpe Diem founder Tania Willems’ home is a showcase for her design products, says SHALAKA PARADKAR
Tania Willems moved to Dubai in 1995. Having always had a passion for interior design, she was eager and enthusiastic about furnishing her home, but Dubai had zilch to offer by way of the beautiful European furniture she sought. Lots of research into the local market as well as into quality international brands followed. In 2001, she stumbled upon Grange, les meubles the famille; the French furniture maker who were about to celebrate their hundredth anniversary.
“Following an eye-opening tour of the Grange factory near Lyon and a meeting with the company’s president, the late Dominique Mercier, there was no doubt in my mind; I had to bring Grange to Dubai,” says Tania. Thus was born Carpe Diem LLC, the art of living, her furniture showroom and interiors consultancy business that retails Grange in Dubai.
Tania is of the view that one’s living environment can hugely impact an individual’s sense of well being and a family’s harmony. Convinced about the style of family furniture she wanted to retail in Dubai, Tania added more top European brands that fit with the Carpe Diem concept.
While at first glance Grange’s classical French style furniture would not seem to work in a modern setting, Tania set about integrating it in her penthouse in Jumeirah Beach Residences – a hip and urban Dubai precinct. The 6000 sq ft penthouse is as much a warm and vibrant family home as a showcase of the European brands represented by Carpe Diem.
Located in one of the tallest towers in the vicinity, the penthouse has breathtaking views of the sea and surrounding area. The interiors were executed over a period of seven months by Tania, along with Kamal Helou, in-house designer at Carpe Diem. “Most of the furniture in the house is Grange. Since Grange is very versatile in its collections as well as finishes, it was an easy task for Kamal and I to furnish the house entirely with Grange furniture and Judeco accessories,” says Tania.
The hall way has been designed to be dramatic with high windows and large standing lamps. In the kitchen and living areas, Tania wanted calming colours and comfort. “We wanted a real ‘living room’ where we would spend most of the time and where I could be cooking while enjoying music, watching the food channel and spend time with friends and family.
The lounge is a more formal space, but still comfortable and inviting with the possibility to seat 12 around the dinner table.” The colour scheme was inspired by the blue of the ocean outside. The open-plan kitchen has a handmade La Cornue oven.
The master bedroom Tania visualised as a haven of tranquility for relaxing, reading with a cup of tea, listening to music and even watching a great movie. For her nine-year old daughter Aisha’s room, she wanted a space that was suitable for a growing girl, with colours to allow for that evolution.
“She has had the Grange bedroom for several years now and still loves it. We have added a brick-coloured desk and chair and she is now starting to make use of her dressing table,” Tania informs. Aisha’s playroom done up in cheerful candy colours is functional as well; with plenty of storage space for toys and books as well as a place to study, hang out with her friends and even have sleepovers. The many windows allow for a bright and pleasant atmosphere easily transformed into a cozy movie room at night.
The home office is functional with the large Grange modular unit that fits many books and files as well as a beautiful Louis XV desk and chair. The ballerina painting in the lounge is a George Bassil my daughter and I fell in love with when we came upon it and it has really brightened up the room.
For the entrance and corridor, my husband bought a few paintings of John Armleder while on a business trip.” In the hall and playroom are paintings by Massha; a Dutch artist whose work Tania admires.
“I am very happy with the outcome and would not change anything about it. It has turned out to be exactly as we dreamed it and its functionality is very good as well.”
Interior designer Kamal M. Helou discusses his design scheme Natural light has a positive effect on human behaviour. In Tania’s penthouse, large windows and terraces make the transition from outside to inside seamless. There is plenty of natural light.
A key consideration in the design scheme here was to invite natural resources into the home to allow them to be a part of daily life. We used natural products wherever possible; furnishing the home with wood, paper and stone. By keeping it natural and simple in colours and shades, we tried to achieve harmony with the home and environment.