Hugo Toro Created a Travel Diary in the Form of His 344-Square-Foot Parisian Apartment

·5 min read
Interior designer and architect Hugo Toro, sitting in his Paris apartment.
Interior designer and architect Hugo Toro, sitting in his Paris apartment.

“Since my childhood, I’ve been passionate about textures and colors,” says interior designer Hugo Toro. “My double culture with a French father and a Mexican mother, and my studies between Europe and the United States, are my main sources of inspiration. I like cozy places. I don’t want to live or create spaces that look and feel like museums.”

The young creative reflected these references and philosophy in his apartment, which is located in the lively and booming 10th arrondissement in the east of Paris. “It is a neighborhood in transformation, which is full of life, with coffee shops and young people all over,” Hugo says.

The main living space features pieces from different styles and eras, such as the sofa designed by Hugo with a Pierre Frey velvet fabric, sconces by Gio Ponti, a coffee table by Hélène de Saint Lager, a Moroccan rug, a Memphis-style green table in marble from the ’80s, and a surrealist painting by Andrée Pollier.
The main living space features pieces from different styles and eras, such as the sofa designed by Hugo with a Pierre Frey velvet fabric, sconces by Gio Ponti, a coffee table by Hélène de Saint Lager, a Moroccan rug, a Memphis-style green table in marble from the ’80s, and a surrealist painting by Andrée Pollier.

Located on the second floor of a three-story 1930s building, the 334-square-foot apartment was completely transformed. “I wanted to create an atypical and eclectic place, as if it were a travel diary,” the designer says. The space has five main windows, and consists of a living room, kitchen, bedroom, closet, and bathroom. With decor reminiscent of an Orient Express cabin taking travelers from Paris to Mexico, the home is adorned with objects that have a lot of sentimental value. The place “is like a personal diary” for Hugo. “I love to welcome my friends here, so the objective was to give life to a space that would be immediately warm, where everybody would feel good.”

In the transition area between the living room and the bedroom, the clouds artwork is by Julien Gauthier and the white ceramic piece is by Nicolette Johnson. The table and lamp are vintage. On the left, the Spanish stool is from the 1930s.
In the transition area between the living room and the bedroom, the clouds artwork is by Julien Gauthier and the white ceramic piece is by Nicolette Johnson. The table and lamp are vintage. On the left, the Spanish stool is from the 1930s.

One of the biggest challenges consisted of removing all the walls and reimagining the layout. “Before I bought it, the apartment had been occupied by the same family for 60 years, without any changes,” Hugo says. “So I had to do a complete renovation. The work lasted six months, much more than the design phase, which was very quick.”

In the kitchen, the red color and lacquered wood give the feeling of being on a train or in a boat. The wall lighting fixture was designed by Hugo Toro and the curtains are by Silva Créations.
In the kitchen, the red color and lacquered wood give the feeling of being on a train or in a boat. The wall lighting fixture was designed by Hugo Toro and the curtains are by Silva Créations.

Hugo chose two complementary colors: red and green (from emerald to pale green) as a nod to renowned Mexican architect Luis Barragán. “I wanted to create a bold yet cozy architecture, and to play with contrasts through raw and noble materials,” says Hugo. The lacquered wood and aluminum—often used in boats and trains—further evoke the concept of traveling, while also strengthening the feeling of depth and amplifying the light.

“For me, Mexico is a mix of geometric forms and cozy ambiances that I like to re-create in the spaces I design,” says Hugo, who has never lived in the country but heard about it on a daily basis thanks to his mother. “Mexico also has a musicality—I grew up listening to Chavela Vargas’s songs—and the food…I love spices and smells from the plates cooked by my grandmother.”

In the bathroom, Hugo designed the sink in Breccia Parma stone, which is combined with a wicker mirror, a mahogany piece of furniture, and a soap holder in onyx from Mexico.
In the bathroom, Hugo designed the sink in Breccia Parma stone, which is combined with a wicker mirror, a mahogany piece of furniture, and a soap holder in onyx from Mexico.

Several decorative elements play tribute to Hugo’s fascination with Mexico. The green sofa (created by Hugo himself) with a velvet Pierre Frey fabric is a reference to the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, while the red hues throughout are evocative of artist Diego Rivera’s color palette. The shapes that make up the base of the bed were also inspired by Aztec geometries. Some of Hugo’s favorite pieces of furniture include the coffee table by Hélène de Saint Lager, the pink ceramic lamp by Entler Studio—which reminds the interior designer of his student life in Los Angeles—and the Fuseau planter by Willy Guhl for its sculptural aspect.

In the bedroom, painted in Lichen green by Farrow & Ball, Hugo Toro designed the bed. The Alualéatoure chair by Hélène de Saint Lager is used as a nightstand with a pink ceramic lamp by Entler Studio. The photo is by Clément Jolin, the curtains are by Silva Créations, and the bedding is by Society Limonta.
In the bedroom, painted in Lichen green by Farrow & Ball, Hugo Toro designed the bed. The Alualéatoure chair by Hélène de Saint Lager is used as a nightstand with a pink ceramic lamp by Entler Studio. The photo is by Clément Jolin, the curtains are by Silva Créations, and the bedding is by Society Limonta.

“I sympathized with the previous owner, who wanted the apartment to be ‘in good hands,’” Hugo says. “So when the work was done, I took some pictures and sent them to her. She really liked how I transformed the space. This apartment is like a train that left from Paris and made many stops in Mexico.”

Hugo’s Picks

Insta feeds to follow: Christopher Michaut @mr.bacchus

Home decor shops: Galerie Gram in Saint-Ouen, France

Destinations for design inspiration: Istanbul, Oaxaca, Vienna, and Paris

Dream buys: A cabin in the woods

Favorite detail in the apartment: The porthole in the bathroom (a reference to Charlotte Perriand)

Biggest design inspirations: My dreams

Favorite thing about your neighborhood: The Buttes-Chaumont park

Last thing you had delivered: An ashtray by Tommaso Barbi

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest