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FEATURES

Christophe & Carolina: Fluent in Style

Mira Dayal

Christophe von Hohenberg & Carolina von Humboldt met at a party in Christophe’s home in 2008. She was admiring the nude images on display, when he walked over and introduced himself as the photographer. . . . 

. . . And the rest is history. 

Trompe l’oeil painter and interior designer Carolina von Humboldt speaks the language of art:

Almost daily, I walk past a beautiful interior design studio on the ground foor of a building on New York’s Upper East Side. The space evokes the image of a white canvas with accents of color: Photographs adorn the room; books are neatly stacked under the window; a white desk hugs the wall and a kitchen aisle runs down the room’s center.

I have often wondered who works there and what their lives are like. I found out one recent fall weekend when I set out to interview renowned interior designer and trompe l’oeil painter, Carolina von Humboldt, and discovered the studio was hers.

The atmosphere is sophisticated yet warm and inviting, which speaks to Carolina’s unparalleled ability to create and customize comfort. Her ofce is decorated with a beautiful combination of classic and modern pieces. Her paintings and designs beautify private homes and ofces around the world, including the Paris headquarters of Estee Lauder Europe and the corporate ofces of Fiducial in Paris, Lyon, and Antwerp.

“You need to talk to the client. You have to get along as human beings before anything happens,” said Carolina, who defnes style as “timeless,’’ and is inspired by “the mystery of tomorrow.’’ 

Carolina von Humboldt was born in Paris to Spanish-German parents. She started her career in Paris as a textile designer when she was 18 years old.

“I fnished high school, and I went to an art school in Paris and then I wanted to go on my own. I didn’t want to stay in my parent’s house,’’ she said. “You either study and stay home or you do something else, so I got a job as a textile designer.’’

Her frst big job was with the Parisian luxury linen maker D. Portdault, where she worked on their custom line and designed the prototype for their frst beach towel. “I remember feeling very proud. It was a big blue fsh in diferent shades of blue!” Carolina said.

She soon decided to study trompe l’oeil in Paris, Milan and Rome. “Since I was little, I always painted, more or less, depending on my life and other things,” explains Carolina. She enjoys painting nature, especially water because “it changes all the time with the light, the weather.” 

After a 10-year pause for a modeling career, Carolina moved on to interior design, working with clients in their corporate ofces, commercial spaces and residences in Europe, South America and New York.

When starting a new project, she imagines the design from the client’s perspective. “My frst step is to feel in the same wave length with the client and remember they will live or work there, not me.” Carolina likes colors to travel through the rooms. “They should come back here and there, but in a subtle way. It should not be obvious.”

She has lived and traveled throughout Europe and Latin America and speaks fve languages fuently, although Italian is her favorite. “I went very often and I lived there, but I’m not Italian,’’ Carolina refected. “I always liked visiting. I think it’s the country that has the most beautiful things.’’

Carolina moved to New York in 2004 after a client commissioned her to design a Madison Avenue apartment. The city remains one of her favorite places in the world.

“Everyone wants to be working here,’’ muses Carolina. “There must be something; there is a reason for that.”

Carolina von Humboldt’s current project is Le Bilboquet, the iconic French bistro on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. To learn more about Carolina, please visit cvhinteriors.com and carolinavonhumboldt.com.