Art & Design

Home Design Tips From a French Fashion Designer

The art-filled hideaway where Christina Zeller, the force behind Belgian leather goods maker Delvaux, retreats on weekends.

The living room's eclectic mix of furniture and objects includes a gold fish skeleton.
Photographer: Gautier Deblonde for Bloomberg Pursuits

The living room's eclectic mix of furniture and objects includes a gold fish skeleton.

Zeller in her Jacques Wirtz-inspired garden.
Zeller in her Jacques Wirtz-inspired garden.
Photographer: Gautier Deblonde for Bloomberg Pursuits

“I think the soul of a home is made by things you keep for years and the ones you buy while traveling together,” says Christina Zeller, artistic director of the Belgian luxury leather goods company Delvaux. Every weekend, Zeller leaves her company’s headquarters in Brussels and heads to her five-room apartment in the tony suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, about 5 miles outside central Paris. Built in the early 1900s, the building is made of the same kind of intricate iron-frame structure as the Eiffel Tower, and its Directoire-style facade nods to the neoclassical movement at the end of the 17th century.

Zeller bought the place 11 years ago with her late husband, interior decorator Eric Zeller, and some of her favorite touches remain his influences: bronze and oak doors he designed, the eclectic mix of antique and Christian Liaigre furniture, a Ludwig Mies van der Rohe méridienne, and an oversize, golden skeleton of a fish they bought from the Givenchy store on Avenue George V. (Zeller was the brand’s lead accessories designer for almost a decade before moving to Delvaux.) “I love the fish very much, and my husband did, too,” she says.

Steps leading up to the Directoire-style facade.
Steps leading up to the Directoire-style facade.
Photographer: Gautier Deblonde for Bloomberg Pursuits

Zeller is an avid collector of jewelry from countries such as Kenya, where she keeps another home, as well as the Astier de Villatte plates and other accoutrements she uses to serve dinner parties for as many as 30 people. “I’m a very bad cook, but I like a big kitchen, because I think it’s always a space to be with friends,” she says. “I like to decorate it as a normal room and not as a room you hide.” The two mosaic-type paintings were purchased off the walls of a restaurant in Marrakech. Zeller’s favorite room is the hallway, or “gallery.” The spine of the apartment, it’s decorated with paintings by Léon Belly and a pair of iron horse sculptures by Carlos Mata.

Zeller plans to continue to fill her home with objects she treasures. “The result is not something you do in 10 years,” she says. “I think the result is something you do in 35 years.”

Silvera lamps flank an Italian sofa.
Photographer: Gautier Deblonde for Bloomberg Pursuits
Silvera lamps flank an Italian sofa.
A red hat from Indonesia hangs on a wall that leads to the gallery.
Photographer: Gautier Deblonde for Bloomberg Pursuits
A red hat from Indonesia hangs on a wall that leads to the gallery.
Jewelry that Zeller has collected while traveling.
Photographer: Gautier Deblonde for Bloomberg Pursuits
Jewelry that Zeller has collected while traveling.
From left: The exterior of the building; a 17th century Mazarin desk sits under a custom bookshelf. 
Photographer: Gautier Deblonde for Bloomberg Pursuits
From left: The exterior of the building; a 17th century Mazarin desk sits under a custom bookshelf. 
Framed photographs, many of which feature her late husband, interior decorator Eric Zeller, with whom she designed the apartment.
Photographer: Gautier Deblonde for Bloomberg Pursuits
Framed photographs, many of which feature her late husband, interior decorator Eric Zeller, with whom she designed the apartment.