One Man, Many Curiosities

Chateau Pouy sur Vannes 41 ©Xavier Bejot

One of his favorite spots is in front of the fireplace. Here, he’s as “happy as a clown.” On interior designer Juan Pablo Molyneux’s château at Pouy-sur-Vannes, in north-central France, there are a few buildings. The main residence—protected by four round turrets at each corner and surrounded by a moat—is where he lives. Outside, there are two tennis courts where he will host a tournament in the fall. One outbuilding houses an indoor pool. Another he plans to use as an academy for artisans. “I don’t just want to keep these skills alive,” he explains. “We can push them a step forward—silver embroidery or embossed leather or other techniques.”

Pouy is where Molyneux comes to relax. With offices in New York and Paris, his design projects have him pinballing from continent to continent, with assignments ranging from a cottage in the Baltic Sea, to a palace in Qatar, to a log house in Monterrey, to the Cercle de l’union Interalliée in Paris. But much of his time is also spent designing his own living spaces. When he’s working on a room, he says he hopes to leave his “emotions in the space.” And there’s good reason for that. “I want to make sure when you go in, you know who that person is,” he explains. “That’s much easier to show in a classical interior than a very contemporary one.”

For Molyneaux, whose style is often called “maximalist” by many, life is an extreme cabinet of curiosities. In his townhouse in New York, for example, he marries a mélange of decorative styles. At Pouy, a few walls are covered with balloon frescoes, because when he first surveyed the property he saw a flying hot-air balloon. “I do very classical interiors,” he declares. “But they’re not museums. I always have my touch of new things, and when you’re learning new things all the time, you want to explore. Then you use that material you acquired.”

He tells me more about his duties as a designer. “Truly, my role is to listen to the functionality that has to be applied to make sure that project will conform with the client’s request.”

Nor does he proselytize. His attitude is: “I listen to his or her dreams.” And whether he’s working for a client or himself, he insists on alchemizing fresh ideas. “My emotions are not 300 years old—yet.”