Fabien Louvier, Letting Materials <br>Speak for Themselves

Fabien Louvier, Letting Materials
Speak for Themselves

Returning to his first love. To those passions that animate the body and mind instinctively and effortlessly after being diverted from them, carried away by everyday life. A decisive break in a career path – often professional – which inspires The Socialite Family and is embodied by Fabien Louvier, an accountant turned architect. After several internships – including a revelatory one with fellow Lyon-based Claude Cartier – and her entry into the agency, the self-taught designer threw himself wholeheartedly into a brand-new project that tested the skills of his new profession. The purchase of a lifetime: a duplex with a view of Fourvière. A “box” that he has plenty of time to rethink, making full use of his sensitivity as a decorator, located just a few minutes from the Presqu’Ile. A totally “blank canvas” into which a “new soul” must be breathed. Even before it was out of the ground, Fabien used his ability to imagine himself there to embody this unusual interior. The starting point was genuine “love at first sight for one of Apparatus Studio’s latest designs during the launch of their “Interlude” collection. He imaginatively rethought these spaces over two consecutive years using a score of materials with contrasting textures. Spaces that borrow their colours and atmosphere from various pioneers in the field: Piero Fornasetti, Christian Astuguevieille. And from artists like Jean Cocteau and Pierre Soulages. Possessing his soul in patience, this Lyon resident has gone the extra mile in his meticulous approach to the details of the various spaces that borders upon the religious: like the choice of patinated brass door handles by Turnstyle Designs. So many elements that interlock, one by one, to solve this “puzzle”. A place that truly reflects him, a melting pot for his vision of beauty and his identity as an architect.

Salon de Fabien Louvier avec canapé en laine bouclette
Salon avec bibliothèque murale noire chez Fabien Bouvier
Cactus et vase chez Fabien Bouvier
Table basse en marbre et escalier chez Fabien Bouvier Escalier et cactus chez Fabien Bouvier

Fabien, could you introduce yourself, please?


My name is Fabien Louvier, and I am 38 years old. I live and work in Lyon as an interior designer.

What is your background?


After studying accounting and working for two years as an accountant for a large group, I returned to my first passion, interior design and decoration, resuming my studies in Lyon at the CREAD Institute. During my final year, I had the opportunity to do an internship at Claude Cartier Décoration. At the end of my internship, I stayed. Claude and I developed the design studio, and it’s been 15 years now!

Tell us about your education. Where did you grow up – and how did that influence the way your tastes developed?


I grew up in a small village near Lyon, far from the world of interior design. As far back as I can remember, I’ve alwaysbeen interested in art in all its forms. I also used to spend a lot of time decorating but never really thought of it as a job – or that it could be a job! It was just a hobby at weekends. The week was devoted to accounting. It was a happy coincidence that I had the opportunity to meet teachers from the CREAD Institute. And that’s when it all clicked. I realised that this was what I wanted to do! So I stopped everything and went back to school. It was double or quits, but I had to try! A new adventure opened up for me. I had to learn everything from scratch. I spent hours on it, but the result is well worth it. In a way, I could almost consider that my taste developed, initially, in a self-taught way. The advantage of being a totally blank canvas is that there is everything to build on. It is possible to draw upon everything, bringing out what speaks to us, what makes us tick! I haven’t travelled much in my life, but by dint of my interest, of finding out about things, places and events, I’ve managed to build up my own personal culture. Instagram was also a good tool for this! Fashions change, tastes evolve too, we can’t say what is good or bad taste. In the end, this is what makes a style.

Fabien Bouvier chez lui

The starting point for the mood and atmosphere I wanted for this apartment was a real love affair with one of Apparatus Studio’s latest designs (...)

Fenêtre avec store chez Fabien Bouvier
Salon avec cuisine ouverte chez Fabien Louvier
Store chez Fabien Louvier
Table basse en marbre chez Fabien Louvier

What about designers and artists: whose work has had a particular influence on you and your work?


There are too many to name them all! I was a blank page waiting to be written. And curiosity grows through research, and with it the desire to know everything! So, of course, I’m going to mention the big names, the great “masters” of design. Andrée Putmann, Christian Liaigre, for balance and rigour. Joseph Dirand, Pierre Yovanovitch, but Dimore Studio and India Mahdavi, too, for their sense of colour, and a touch of frivolity! There are also designers I work with and admire, including Christophe Delcourt, Studio Pepe and Patricia Urquiola. I can’t talk about artists without mentioning Pierre Soulages, for his work on black and matter, Jean Cocteau and his multidisciplinary genius! There are also younger ones, like the talented and daring Mathias Kiss and Antonin Hako; I bought a drawing of his. It’s an important and symbolic work for me. The first piece I bought in a gallery! And then there are those I’d classify as both artists and designers. Piero Fornasetti, for the fantasy and audacity of his time, or Christian Astuguevieille, who is often featured in the work of Gilles and Boissier.

What about the style you have given your apartment?


The starting point for the mood and atmosphere I wanted for this apartment was a real love affair with one of Apparatus Studio’s latest designs for the launch of their “Interlude” collection. It was love at first sight. I had to have it! The combination of colours, the refinement of the materials: all their work spoke to me. There is always a starting point in a global reflection on design and decoration. It can be a work of art, an advertisement, a piece of scenography. Obviously, my own choices, my own desires and my own identity were then combined with all this to make it what it is today. I didn’t want a copy and paste job either! Other worlds have also inspired me, notably the work of Joseph Dirand at Monsieur Bleu or Girafe, two favourite restaurants in Paris that I never tire of. Romeo Moretti’s Villa Carminati on the shores of Lake Maggiore also influenced me a lot for the work in the bedroom, in the choice of materials and colours. Working with high-quality, beautifully crafted products every day, it’s hard to get away from these inspired and inspiring worlds.

Tell us the story of your apartment.


I would never have imagined buying a new apartment off-plan, which, it must be said, has no character. I was dreaming more of mouldings, old fireplaces, or an untouched loft. A place with a strong identity! And then an opportunity came up. This place came back onto the market the day before I joined the agency; it was a sign! And how could I resist the idea of a duplex: two floors with a terrace, all in the middle of the city in a street – admittedly at the end – but which was the one I was aiming for! Thinking about it, this apartment was going to be rather like me at first. A blank canvas that would have to be given a soul to give it its own identity, and become a reflection of me! The challenge then was to be patient. The work hadn’t even started yet! It took two years. Two years to wait, to think. Even though I’m used to working on plans, it was quite difficult to imagine myself there, what view I was going to have, etc. During the first visit, I had a very nice surprise – for a Lyonnais (laughs) -: the view over the Fourvière basilica!

How did you plan it?


Two years of reflection! It’s a long time. Especially without seeing anything because the building hadn’t been erected yet! You have to do everything in your head, in sketches, on plans. Especially since working for yourself is always more difficult than for clients. There are too many conflicting ideas and desires. The approach to a new purchase was quite different from those we regularly have at the agency: a base to work from. Either there was nothing, or there were things that were more or less imposed on me. And then, one thing leading to another, the whole thing started to come together, the elements fitted together like a puzzle. The most important room for me, and I think for many people, is the living room which had to be completely redesigned. In fact, before I bought the apartment, I had already modified it and the kitchen by enlarging them and reducing one of the two bathrooms. It was imperative to give this space more volume. You enter through it, and it opens onto the terrace. Another strong point I had to work on was the stairs. I’ve always loved stairs; I think they’re an object in their own right – a feature that you can play with, both in terms of shape and materials. What a surprise – not a very good one – when I discovered it in the apartment! A wooden construction with, of course, an openwork railing and a handrail on the wall. So I covered the bannisters to hide them, then painted it with smooth lime and highlighted it with shiny black wood. I stained the steps with a burnt oak colour that gives them a patina like old wood. And then I removed the handrail. For the more “decorative” elements, I think the choice that took the longest was the finishes for the kitchen, which I had designed and made to measure. I had to dig through almost all the wood and stone samples from suppliers to find the right ones! Always with the idea of bringing depth, I worked mainly with smoothed limes from Ressources, which give substance to the walls and change according to the light. I also used Orac Decor panels which reproduce a moulded plaster effect on some of the walls. To really go the extra mile, I replaced all the handles in the apartment with patinated brass ones from Turnstyle Design, which has a great collection. The only room I’ve had very little opportunity to change is the bathroom. The manufacturer’s range of tiles was very limited. Even though I could still go and choose from others, I couldn’t do exactly what I wanted. So I transformed it into a kind of greenhouse full of plants to give it life! In fact, I realise with hindsight that from the beginning I have always wanted to bring different materials into this flat. Whether it’s velvet on the wall, wood veneer, wallpaper or paint effects. All used with subtlety but with a definite desire to get away from these smooth and ultimately boring walls.

Sculpture chez Fabien Louvier
Cuisine noire chez Fabien Louvier
Plan de travail chez Fabien Louvier
Chaise en bois chez Fabien Louvier
Crédence en terrazzo chez Fabien Louvier Assiette Fornasetti chez Fabien Louvier

And furniture?


Having kept absolutely nothing of the previous apartment, everything had to be replaced! In the first place, I wanted to work with my suppliers; it was both a pleasure and important for me. A year before the flat was delivered, Patricia Urquiola designed the Gogan sofa for Moroso. It was a foregone conclusion that this would be the must-have for the living room. Then things were done little by little, picking up pieces here and there from each manufacturer. One thing that I really fell in love with the first time I saw it in Milan was Dan Yeffet’s B-light for Collection Particulière. I had to find a place for it here! Today it stands in the living room. I also wanted a rather refined atmosphere featuring beautiful materials. Gamfratesi’s Voyages chairs for Porro are a good example. They are covered in tawny leather, very stylish, with a touch of saddlery in the Hermès style. Of course, we mustn’t forget the terrace, which I wanted to fill with plants. I wanted a Bosco Verticale like the two towers by the architect Stefano Boeri in Milan. Now we have to wait for them to grow! (Laughs) It’s true that there are only new pieces in this flat, even though I love hunting for treasures, and sometimes find antiques really attractive. I think it also has to do with my passion for the furniture I work with every day. After all, nothing is set in stone; it’s only the beginning. I think there’ll be more to come if there’s still room! (Laughs)

What does this place say about you?


It’s hard to say; you’d have to ask a third party! Above all, it allowed me to express my own work and personality in a personal way through decoration and not, this time, for a client. Somehow I think it represents me quite well. With a certain rigour, the omnipresence of this black graphic underlining found on almost all the walls. It’s like a common thread! I’d say that the “box”, the envelope of the flat, is dealt with in a precise, graphic way, but inside it is also softened by the workmanship and materials in the choice of furniture and textiles.

What does The Socialite Family mean to you?


A success story! But also a different look at the approach to decoration. Beyond the beautiful still images, we meet, through your reports and your interviews, the people who live in these places that we’re discovering. It’s much less impersonal.

As someone who has been involved in decoration for almost 15 years, which addresses would you spontaneously recommend in Lyon?


but there are so many others! For the cultural aspect, the Musée des Tissus with its incredible collection; it’s closed temporarily for a complete renovation by the architect Rudy Ricciotti. There are also galleries to discover, including Slika, Manifesta and Tatiss.

Rideau en velours kaki et escalier
Chat sur plaid gris chez Fabien Louvier
Rebord de fenêtre avec piles de livres chez Fabien Louvier

The challenge then was to be patient. The work hadn’t even started yet! It took two years. Two years to wait, to think.

Suspension blanche japonisante HAY chez Fabien Louvier
Console en bois avec sculptures vertes chez Fabien Louvier
Chandelier en béton chez Fabien Louvier

I’d say that the “box”, the envelope of the flat, is dealt with in a precise, graphic way, but inside it is also softened by the workmanship and materials in the choice of furniture and textiles.

Couloir avec console noire chez Fabien Louvier
Photographie noire et blanche chez Fabien Louvier
Vase en céramique noire chez Fabien Louvier

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