You know your son is very special when, instead of going to the playground, he rearranges your furniture. Growing up in Belgium, Maxime Jacquet discovered his passion at a very early age. “My room wasn’t the way I wanted it to be so I had to design it my way and express my personality. Usually what happened was that the one room turned into me arranging the whole house.” That’s how it started for Maxime, now 24, who has risen to become one of the most sought-after interior designers today.
The son of an entrepreneur mother and an architect father has found his calling in America’s high society as a self-named ‘curator and designer of lifestyles’. Having designed residential properties for prestigious clients from different parts of the industry—from extraordinary business men to artists and entertainers—his work has also taken him to more unusual living spaces. “The most interesting project was to design a jet and a yacht. You not only have the client’s expectation, but also the technical issues of what you can and can’t do. When you meet the captain of a yacht he tells you all the rules or beliefs, such as you can’t use fur because it’s bad luck. And no matter how crazy it sounds, you have to respect his wishes. You have to design around preferences like that.”
Maxime divides his time between three countries, designing a home on Avenue Montaigne in Paris, several homes across the USA and a project in London. Though very protective of his clients’ privacy, Maxime tells me that one of his newest clients is the former American Idol judge Paula Abdul, who, he says, is undergoing a period of reinvention. “She is expressing a very edgy side of herself and wants the world to take notice. It’s a lot of fun to see the process a client goes through emotionally when redesigning their home.”
Getting to know his clients, their dreams and visions, is not a straightforward process for Maxime. “I don’t know where it comes from, it’s a feeling that I get, where I just know a client will love one item over another. By listening [to them] and watching [them] I am taking all of that in, taking little codes and tips, and then adjusting them and return to them with a design filled with their expectations. I am a very open person, and I like to know my client and understand what they want. My goal is to always surprise them because who doesn’t like surprises!”
For Maxime, inspiration is around every corner. Every shape, colour or atmosphere can be the trigger for an idea. His favourite places to look for new artworks are vintage shops. For him, the beauty of vintage is that a 50-year-old piece from an unknown designer can have that very special, unique Maxime’s penthouse in West Hollywood expressive look. “You cannot find those types of unique pieces in a gallery. Just driving down the street I often have to do U-turns if I see a storefront with something interesting. Gallery shopping is almost too easy. Art is so wonderful because it is the only thing where no one is able to judge you because it’s so personal. I like to discover treasures from the past. I like to find new artists—art that lives on the street really speaks to me. A street artist may not have the lifestyle but he has the freedom to express himself in his art and that is powerful.”
Maxime brings to the table a marriage of past and present, an eclectic vibe of objects, fabrics, photographs and ideas, creating the perfect match for his clients’ emotion at a certain period in their lives. By mixing inspirations from fashion, history and futuristic ideas, Maxime shapes his own creations.
Nowhere is this better illustrated than in Maxime’s own apartment in West Hollywood. He says: “My personal projects challenge me the most; it’s difficult for someone like myself who has to be creative every day. You become a bit consumed with décor. Like dropping a bottle in the middle of the ocean, you have way too many ideas around you.
“My home projects give me the most self-critical moments and, in fact, it’s often these projects that are never ending. I always see a way I need to improve. It is for this same reason I don’t have a personal style. I like to change all the time.” How often, then, does he change or add elements of the interior in his own apartment? “I think without a doubt I have a new idea for my apartment every single day. Not just a change in style, but I want to change locations from cabin style to Malibu beach house to New York high-rise apartment. There are so many things that I like and haven’t tried yet, and there is so much beauty in them all, I can’t help myself but to think different constantly.”
Maxime sees it as his mission to open doors into unknown worlds and allow his clients to adapt willingly. “I don’t think you can change individuals. The only thing I want to change is history. Maybe leave a mark in my lifetime that says my presence was part of making people live better, more fulfilled lifestyles and that I was a part of that movement. I want to create something inventive with my passion that is memorable.”
At 24, Maxime may be young, but he is very sure of himself. He is constantly reinventing himself, without standing still or becoming predictable. Although his success speaks for itself, he still feels that his generation isn’t given enough credit. He declares: “I may be young on paper, but I feel like I have a mindset of someone older, who knows where he is and where he is going. I think it’s time for the world to realise that young people have the right and ability to express themselves and achieve something. It’s time for the world to give the young crowd some credit for what we bring to arts and design.”
Today, more than ever, the fashion-conscious make a purchase and are already thinking of their next acquisition. In the fashion and design world, the market has never had such an abundance of choices. The possibilities are endless, and that doesn’t even include custom styles. Yet, Maxime says that despite all these options, many people go down the traditional route. “This is because they are overwhelmed and even though we encourage people to express themselves, they don’t want to be judged. And with so many options people don’t know where to look anymore.”
That’s why Maxime—and his ‘strong, young and ambitious’ team of seven—tries to push his clients to their limits, with the design remaining creative without becoming offensive. He describes the essence of what he does as follows: “A house truly expresses an owner’s personality—you walk in and can tell who is living there. Who do you want people to think you are? Who do you want to be? My personal home is an extension of me. I have always held the belief that a house is a commitment for a long time. You have to always remember your needs are going to change as well so a house is complete only to a certain point.
You have to think in advance about the house becoming adaptable and where the client will be. A good house will also change for the seasons and moods.”
Now, Maxime Jacquet ventures towards designing luxury and commercial spaces, restaurants and even opening a retail store. He wants to show the world that being young doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to be considered, and he does this by taking long, bold strides.
Mixime Jacquet about the interior design choices in his apartment
“You can see in the living room that I mixed different styles and different size coffee tables. I love to play with scale and numbers this way. Even though one table may not be useful in a space I take many of them and put them together to make a very special harmonious piece. You have a set of round black glass tables and in the middle of this I put a huge mirrored rectangular coffee table to create a group of mirrors and glass. You have some French plaster sculptures on the table mixed with modern coffee table books of different vintage items.”
“I have a hot Pink Neon art sculpture from the artist Tracey Emin in the guest bedroom alongside a Missoni bed in pink shades to pick up the pink from the neon. We have some mother of pearl lamps from Verner Panton from the ’60s that I found in a vintage store in Palm Spring, California. You have an old-fashioned luggage trolley used as a rack in the room to showcase some couture clothing as if this was set up for a Hollywood actress to change before a movie premier. I got the trolley in a vintage auction I went to, and thought what a great way to use props in a space. This used to be in a hotel in Las Vegas, so the potential history behind the piece caught my attention as well.”
“In the master bedroom you can see a total mix between the bed, which picks up the empire style and the pop art Andy Warhol painting on the top of the bed. You have two fire extinguishers on both sides of the bed, which have been converted to bedside lamps. Those are vintage as well and we covered them with brass to give them a more elegant look, but with keeping their industrial vibe and character. The place is filled with furniture that really means something to me and that seemingly has nothing in common and should not match. However, because of the way I set them up they represent who I am at this moment and what emotion is going through my head at this period of my life.”