The Home of Isis-Colombe Combréas

In the 14th arrondissement of Paris, right on the border to Montparnasse, lies the home of Isis-Colombe Combréas. The founder of MilK Magazine shares the 180-square metre apartment with her photographer husband Karel Balas, with whom she founded MilK in 2003, their 16-year-old daughter Hiroko and the family pet, a handsome Persian cat
by the name of Jack.

 

“We’ve lived here for 17 years,” Isis tells us, “It’s our family home, even though our oldest, Aliocha, has recently moved out to study engineering. The building is really beautiful and dates back to the 1930’s. Living on the Left Bank and working in the 1st arrondissement, I often travel to and from work by foot or electric bike – it’s always a wonder for me to cross the Seine and go through the antique district.” Spread over three floors, Isis’ home is truly a melting pot of classic and modern design: high ceilings, wide panels and pristine cornices reference the archetypal image of pre-war Parisian architecture, while a pewter-blue resin covers all of the flooring and a network of newly-added metal beams spread throughout the rooms, linking them all together.

 

Though at first glance one might take Isis for a Paris native, she was actually born and raised on the Spanish island of Ibiza, and first moved to Paris as a young adult to study literature and film. “I was brought up in a very strong counterculture by my artist parents – it was the 1970’s and we lived in a small hippie community,” Isis tells us. Being raised by artists, one could say that creativity is a part of Isis’ DNA, but they weren’t the only ones who sparked her initial interest in design: “My uncle, who is only ten years older than me, worked at YSL in the early 90’s. He imparted a lot of his design taste to me, and I still love the aesthetics from that period.”

 

 

 

 

 

After finishing her studies, Isis worked as a publishing assistant and later, as a television presenter on various children’s shows. For 13 years, she worked both on and off camera, producing segments as well as hosting them. When Isis eventually began the journey with MilK in 2003, it was a fusion of her many talents and experiences: her education in literature, her experience in children’s entertainment, her time in publishing and not least her experiences as a mother. Her objective? To offer a modern journey into the world of childhood, or as she so succinctly puts it, “to depict the art of family living.”

 

 

“I was brought up in a very strong counterculture by my artist parents – it was the 1970’s and we lived in a small hippie community.”

 

 

Today, an edition of MilK Magazine is filled with the latest in sustainable microfashion, children’s interiors and family-friendly travel destinations, as well as articles that profile contemplative, weighty issues affecting modern day families, such as raising a child with disabilities, mindfulness for all ages and the influence of technology on a child’s cognitive development. Published quarterly in both French and English, MilK Magazine has expanded to include a design publication – MilK Décoration – as well as Japanese, Korean and Chinese editions. Isis currently holds the title of Managing Editor and Editorial Director at MilK, as well as that of Director at FOVEA – a creative and consulting agency she started 6 years ago. In the wake of all these accomplishments, Isis remains humble. “I hope to have created unique and inspiring magazines,” she says modestly. “At MilK, we care about beauty and sustainability, and in a traditional country like France, it isn’t always easy to highlight a new lifestyle.”

 

Isis’ confidence to try something new is certainly mirrored in her home. Her extensive ceramic collection, which she describes as her hobby, includes pieces by artists from the Memphis Movement, an Italian design collective that came out of Milan in the 80’s. Shunning the minimalism of mid-century modernism, the artists instead embraced vivid colours and geometric forms in an intersection of Art Deco, Pop Art and Kitsch. You can feel this rebellious vein running through Isis’ home – no more so than in the black metal beams and perforated metal walls that run throughout the home and stand in great contrast to the original 1930’s coving and stucco.

 

 

 

 

“The metal beams play a functional role by allowing us to redistribute the spaces and restructure the original floorplan from the 30’s,” Isis explains. “It also introduces an unexpected and modern element into the space. I like to mix modern design with brutalist and vintage pieces.” Designed and installed six years ago by the Italian architecture firm UdA – now MARCANTE–TESTA – the beams are based on a unique rack system of metal tubes and perforated sheet metal, and allow for the creation of open, communal spaces ideal for family living, as well as creating new and functional spaces that the previous floorplan lacked.

 

One such space is the ensuite master bathroom, separated from the bedroom only by coloured glass and perforated metal screens. Here the linear lines of the metal beams are contrasted by a cream-coloured spiral, also formed out of metal, which Isis playfully uses as a towel rack. Therein lies the magic of this unique Parisian apartment – although it is filled with bold, beautiful design elements, it is all done with a sense of ease and joy. When asked what makes a home, Isis’ answer is simple: “family memories, pieces from our travels and the nonchalant presence of our cat.”

 

 

 

 

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