Art enthusiast Paul Mathieu creates a stunning address in Udaipur

DEC 28, 2018 | By Sneha Ullal Goel
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT Paul Mathieu in his study. He had to get the walls broken down in the room to make it airier and installed a skylight so that he could sketch on his desk directly under natural light. The blackened teak table from the Louise line and the teak and rosewood chair in a dark finish were both envisioned for Stephanie Odegard. On it rest tall green marble candlestands again designed by Paul for the brand, along with the clay chicken bought from a local village potter; The other side of the study with fixed seating near the stone window. The rosewood centre table with minaret inspired legs, copper chair clad with teak and stone tables that are an ode to jali work are all the owner’s designs.
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT One of the bedrooms downstairs, with flooring put together using leftover rosewood at Paul Mathieu's workshop. On the bed rests a flannel cover made from an old silk sari. Minimal accents like the marble bowl by the shuttered window, Fleur pendant light, jali side table designed by Paul Mathieu for Stephanie Odegard and stainless steel kettle, keep the room cosy and uncluttered; A corner of the other boudoir on the ground floor with white lime finished foundation. While the chair and low table are from the Louise collection for Stephanie Odegard, the antique copper water pot was a gift from a friend; The sitting room with rosewood shuttered windows and white lime finished flooring polished with coconut oil and agate stone, which keeps the house cool all year round. The wood and copper table and grey flannel sofa are both prototypes designed for Stephanie Odegard. The wool khadi blanket on the diwan has a motif of the tree of life.
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT An inside view of the tibari, one of Paul Mathieu's favourite summer spots in the house. Paul Mathieu created the table and chairs for the Louise collection (inspired by Indian craft and Renaissance era designs) for Stephanie Odegard, while the jug and bowls were travel purchases from across India; INSPIRED TREND Jali Bird Intricate traditional cut work on this marble Noor jewel box from Good Earth evokes an air of purity and mystery. Photography by S Thiru. Produced by Jayati Jain; The master bath with Nimbahera stone flooring: The blackened teak wood chair and table with copper top designed by Paul Mathieu for Stephanie Odegard, complete this picture of balanced neutrals. The antique finish brass fittings bring an element of brightness to the Nimbahera stone sink and tub. At the bottom, the decorative slab is an ode to traditional temple design.

Under the arches on the first floor hallway, fine khadi curtains billow in the lazy monsoon breeze, almost swaying to the tune of Eldar Levgran’s “Round Midnight”, a caramel jazz number with a brooding bass. It feels like an apt soundtrack to the harmonious mesh of two cities in Paul Mathieu’s vacation house – where the je ne sais quoi, lulling charm of Paris flows with the painstaking historic craft of Udaipur.

 A deep love for indigenous craft and frequent visits to work with the artisans, nudged Paul Mathieu to find a coop where he could sketch, cook and breathe at his own pace. This haveli “on the verge of collapse” was quite a discovery, thanks to local restoration expert Monish Paliwal. A six month project extended to three years – Paul Mathieu was introduced to historic finishes, which he knew he just had to include in this mini palace. The white foundation on the first floor, for instance, was coated multiple times with lime, then polished with coconut oil and agate stone. Even on the hottest days, this surface stays cool throughout the year! A fitting contrast to the chaos and colours of Udaipur, Paul’s home follows a quiet palette of chalk ivory and calm grey. The spacious, airy rooms have deliberate hints of wood and aged metal, most from the prototype furniture Paul created.  While the base level has two bedrooms and an open courtyard that expands to a bamboo roofed meeting area, the first floor houses the kitchen, Paul’s reading room/boudoir and study with a skylight right above his work desk. On the terrace is a jali work tibari made for the house, where he savours brunches or the one-off Sufi concert with his friends. “I live with an open mind,” he proclaims, when illustrating why none of the areas have one definitive purpose. “In India, a room becomes anything you want it to be – if you feel like eating dessert, a plate is served to you! I love that about this country’s culture