The following is an excerpt from the book The Lonny Home: Discovering & Cultivating Your Most Authentic Space, authored by The Editors at Lonny Magazine and Sean Santiago, and out May 7, published with permission of Weldon Owen.
The first time Manish Arora set eyes on his future home in Paris’s bohemian Canal Saint-Martin neighbourhood, he knew he had to have it—and destroy it. “I thought: This is it,” he says. “And my next thought was: I need to break as many walls as possible.” This impulse to level the place—save for a load-bearing wall and the mouldings and carved-marble fireplaces so typical of Parisian prewar apartments— wasn’t the knee-jerk reaction of someone with an outsize creative complex, but simply a yearning to flood the space with natural light. “I cannot live in the dark,” the New Delhi–born fashion designer says.
For those familiar with Arora’s aesthetic, that will hardly come as a surprise. This is, after all, the man who took the fashion industry by storm in 2007 by becoming the first designer of Indian descent to present a collection—full of high-concept, rainbow-spectrum ready-to-wear showstoppers—at Paris Fashion Week. Using the intricate beading and handmade artisanal techniques from his native country with the immaculate tailoring and avant-garde silhouettes of his adopted France, Arora quickly won critical raves and high-profile fans including Kate Moss, Rihanna, and Katy Perry. Reviewers have used phrases such as “sugar rush” and “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” to describe his runway shows, which reference everything from art deco to K-pop to Burning Man, all seen through a Bollywood lens. So, clearly his home was never going to be minimal or moody. Instead, it’s a shrine to the interplay of color, the transformative properties of light, and the juxtaposition of palatial fixtures with worldly tchotchkes. Or, to use Arora’s own words, “I’m scared of too much white.”
Much like Arora’s fashion sensibility, the apartment overflows with theatrical touches. The bedroom evokes Sunset Boulevard, with an entire wall devoted to 1930s-style gold mosaic mirrors picked up at an antiques shop on Paris’s Boulevard de Strasbourg. “I planned it in such a way that the sun hits the wall in the morning and flashes the whole room,” the designer says, clearly delighted by his Midas-touch craftiness. “It’s all gold light when I wake up.” Arora holds court in the lounge amid his ever-expanding array of Japanese and Russian figurines, his collection of kitschy plastic food scored at a market in Tokyo, and his prized artwork: a wondrous oversize sticker mosaic by Chinese artist Ye Hongxing. This space is a work in progress, steadily updated with souvenirs from Arora’s travels and providing constant inspiration for a man who thrives on visual companionship: “I feel comfortable in the clutter. I feel strange and scared in an empty space.”
Yet despite the neon tones and the whirlwind of international influences, Arora’s home is surprisingly zen. To achieve its airy exuberance, he embraced linear forms, clean colourblocking, and immense amounts of light. “I try to avoid bulky furniture,” he says. “Everything is see-through or lean and thin so that light is reflected in as many places as possible.” The result? An over-the-top oasis for a colour-happy provocateur. Splashes of bold colour and print beautifully rep this homeowner’s vivid style.