“The thing with doing something like this is that everyone thinks you’re suddenly an expert on understanding and knowing who Coco Chanel was,” said Sam Taylor-Johnson, by way of caveat.

The artist, fresh off an 11-hour-long flight after wrapping filming on her latest project (directing the movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey) was speaking at the Saatchi Gallery, where an exhibition of her photographs of Coco Chanel’s Paris apartment will open on Friday. The exhibition, entitled Second Floor, was the result of three days Taylor-Johnson spent in the apartment above the rue Cambon boutique in May 2010.

It is the first exhibition Taylor-Johnson has put on for five years, and is a departure from her previous work in photography, which has predominantly comprised portraits of people. “It was a favour to a friend, Justine Picardie, who was writing a biography of Chanel and asked me to shoot the pictures to accompany the book,” Taylor-Johnson explained. “I got on the train thinking, ‘What am I doing?’ I’m really not that interested in photographing inanimate objects, and if this is going to be like a World of Interiors shoot, that’s not what I’m good at.'” Read more.