Cover The sitting room also houses a study area defined by the gilded curved screen

Chinoiserie wallpaper and a botanical theme come together to form a sophisticated setting within this apartment designed by Moscow-based designer Irakli Zaria

If you take a peek at Moscow-based designer Irakli Zaria’s portfolio, you’ll find that most of the homes that he designs are filled with one-of-a-kind pieces. “I’m a huge fan of mixing and matching different vintage pieces from the 20th century. These pieces of furniture are so charismatic and special,” says Zaria. 

The designer can also be found designing bespoke pieces for almost every one of his projects. “I prefer to offer my clients furniture pieces that are unique and rare, something that you wouldn’t be able to see in every third or fourth house in the world,” he explains. “I also collect a lot of art for my clients. Art is the hero of every single one of my projects.”

Zaria also harbours a “passion and love for Asia”; he admires the richness and intricacy of Asian designs. “I'm a huge fan of Oriental art in general,” he enthuses. “For my projects, I love using Japanese and Chinese screens, embroideries, lacquer boxes, and so on and forth.”

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It comes as no surprise then, that when British wallpaper company de Gournay's founder Claud Cecil Gurney tasked Zaria to transform several rooms within a private apartment that the brand owns in Moscow, he immediately decided on enveloping the space with a botanical theme and in chinoiserie style. A decorative aesthetic that was highly popular in 18th century Europe and reflected the Western fascination with East Asian designs and patterns, the designer sought to link the style with de Gournay’s beautiful wallpaper collections.  

“The main DNA of the brand is chinoiserie, and the most popular designs from them are also botanical—plants, trees, grasses, and so on,” explains Zaria. “When I thought about the design refresh, I wanted to make something new—totally modern and contemporary, but at the same time, of course, having certain links with the brand.” 

He continues: “I’m a huge fan of de Gournay in general, and when the family asked me to redecorate the space, it was a huge honour for me. I have known the family for ages because I've been using their wallpapers, embroidery and fabrics in my projects for so long. It was a huge pleasure working with them on the project; it’s always easier to work with somebody whom you love.” 

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The sitting room is a serene sanctuary that gently envelops you in nature. Appropriately named Wild Grasses, Zaria drew inspiration for the wallpaper from the towering obana grass motifs on an 18th-century Japanese Edo-period screen. The tranquil wallpaper wraps the walls of the entire space, which doubles as a lounge area for entertaining guests as well as a home office. 

True to his design signature, Zaria created several bespoke pieces for the space. The main sitting room area features a dove grey sofa that accompanies a travertine coffee table and two beautiful lacquered armchairs upholstered in custom embroidered fabric. A bespoke rug made of soft wool, linen and sateen adds a tactile layer to the space. To the side, a cabinet covered in white parchment both inside and outside serves as storage space and a work of art.

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A gilded curved screen featuring white and pink cherry blossoms mark the study area. A red lacquered desk, custom-made by Zaria, adds a bright pop of colour to the neutral-toned space. 

“I wanted to do something different,” says Zaria, on his soothing colour palette. “Chinoiserie as well as most of de Gournay’s designs are typically colourful; a beautiful mixture with different shades and colors. I wanted to do something totally unexpected to show that you can use botanical themes and chinoiserie not only in neo-classical interiors, but in modern and contemporary spaces as well.”

The dining room continues the home’s peaceful narrative. For an elegant touch to the space, Zaria chose to embroider de Gournay’s Deco Wisteria fabric motifs onto a wool sateen to upholster the panels of the cabinet doors. The same material was innovatively used to create an art piece that’s flanked by two delicate wall scones and hangs above an oak storage cabinet. The serene combination creates a striking setting for the bespoke travertine and oak dining table and chairs. 

A different area within the apartment showcases brighter florals. Here, Zaria dressed the walls with a delicate wallpaper that features flowering trees together with bird and butterfly motifs. The hand-embroidered elements add an eclectic and surprising element. Similarly, a powder room draped in vibrant floral motifs from de Gournay’s Erdem collection is also a delightful surprise, adding vibrancy and a touch of romanticism to the home. 

Zaria’s passion is evident from the way he recounts and recites every detail of the project without a pause. “​When you love something, you keep it in mind. And I’m a huge fan of my profession. I love what I do,” he laughs.