Tour a Brutalist Home in Zurich That Embodies Tranquility | Architectural Digest

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Tour a Brutalist Home in Zurich That Embodies Tranquility
| Architectural Digest

When Victoria-Maria Geyer was offered an opportunity to design a house in Zurich, it felt like a dream come true. That the house was a Brutalist masterpiece by renowned Swiss architect Ernst Gisel was – for the Hamburg-born, Brussels-based interior designer – a career-defining moment. “When the homeowners asked me to come on board, I had to,” Geyer says, squeezing her own hand. “They sent me pictures of the house, and I was immediately seduced.” The gravity of the house lured Geyer from Brussels to Zurich with the task of adding warmth and texture to concrete and steel.

Located in Küsnacht, a wealthy enclave about 15 minutes by car from downtown Zurich, the house was purchased by the clients in 2021. While the shell of the structure was a Brutalist marvel, the interiors left much to be desired. “The previous owners lived in the house as it was built,” explains Geyer. “There is a term in French, dans son propre jus, which means soaking your juice. That was the problem with the interiors. So I had to go in and really change the atmosphere.”

What makes interior renovations difficult is working within a predetermined space. What makes it even more difficult is when that predetermined space is cast in concrete from the hand of an iconic architect. “Because Gisel’s design was so unique, I couldn’t just go in with the material I like to work with; silk, velvet. I had to use whatever magic the space allowed me to use.” This meant that Geyer implemented a palate of blues, grays and whites. “I used metal, but then contrasted it with rough textures such as fabric, stones. It was a challenge not to use the materials I typically gravitate towards, but what a rewarding experience it was.”

While the end result was one that the designer and homeowners loved, getting to that point was a logistical nightmare. “It was my first project in Switzerland,” explains Geyer, “and I didn’t know what hoops I would have to jump through to explain every little thing I brought in from different parts of the world.” The interior designer is now working on several more houses across Switzerland, and has vowed not to make the same administrative mistakes.

But for Geyer, the headaches made the final results all the more meaningful. “My favorite part of the house starts and ends with the kitchen,” she says with a smile. “I love the curtains because they bring such a textured splash of color to the room. I had to be measured with these moments, so as not to cannibalize the artwork on the walls. But really, for me it’s really the green table that anchors the space.” Geyer designed the table, along with a variety of other pieces of furniture throughout the house. “The fact that I could bring my own designs into the house made it all the more meaningful.”

The clients are serious art collectors with two kids running around; a recipe for disaster, some would argue. “The homeowners are very down to earth and have a great sense of humor,” says Geyer. “They have very beautiful art on their walls, but they want to live in a house, not a museum. I mean, look, their philosophy is: Don’t stop your life because you have kids. They have a white carpet in their house. If that doesn’t sum up how relaxed they are with kids running around, I don’t know what will.”

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