The head of artistic direction for the legendary Pellicano hotel group, Marie-Louise Scio makes sparks fly. Having studied design and...
Ronit, Julie, can you introduce yourselves?
I’m an English woman in Paris, but a Parisian at heart for twenty years! I love decor and furniture, I adore bargain-hunting and am lucky enough to be able to do it for others – I curate vintage furniture and objects. I got into it by chance when I was organising my own flat where we’re standing. I got into the habit of going to flea markets, rue de Lille, the big galleries and fairs. One day, my bank said “stop” and that’s when Julien said I should curate stuff myself!It took quite a while but little by little I taught myself how to know if a purchase was worth it or not. Then friends started approaching me to say they’d seen something they loved and could I find it for them – it was a smooth, organic transition that started seven years ago. Bit by bit, the set-up became more professional and around five years ago expanded to interior design projects where designers would call on my services.
I create images. But to say I’m a photographer doesn’t cover what I do. I also make videos and enjoy staging – like my “staged” interior – I draw on all styles of pictorial influences including paintings. I often think of my photos as paintings. I use my camera like I would paint brushes. In short, I produce images. I’m an artist. Cocteau said they are branches from the same tree!
Julien, what is your story?
After having very quickly dropped out from my law studies, I left for New York when I was nearly 20 years old. This is where I took courses in acting and cinema. I grew up in Paris, France, into a family belonging to the cinema… (His mother, Marie-Josée Nat, was an actress and his father, Michel Drach, was a director, ndlr). This was when I began to take an interest in pictures. I’m a self-taught photographer. For twenty years, I have no longer been acting, having gladly switched from in front of to behind the camera. It keeps me occupied day and night. I even dream of waking up to new pictures!
What are your daily inspirations? Does your home interior influence the way you work?
My primary inspiration is Italy, even though my partner is English! Moreover, I am thinking of writing a book designed like a Grand Tour…a bit unconventional. My apartment is a great source of inspiration for me, since I need to be in my own space. I very often use my things and decor as subjects for taking shots of still life or portraits. In particular, my home is where I present my work, where I entertain collectors and photography enthusiasts of all ages and from all backgrounds, a bit like in an art gallery but more welcoming and personal.
How did your childhood affect your taste?
My parents were hardened bargain-hunters and knew their stuff when it came to superb 70s pieces. They took me to antiques markets, car boot sales, and auctions. For me, decor and interiors are also about good company and love – I bargain-hunted with my son’s father and do so with Julien. Plus we like to be surrounded by lovely things, it’s as simple as that. I love vintage pieces, I like that they have a soul. I also like contemporary design, but only in a sustainable context. Without meaning to sound corny, I just really like preserving things that have already been around.
My parents took me to flea markets from a very young age. They were real bargain-hunters, they were cultured and loved objects; they opened my eyes and taught me what to look for early on. I grew up in Paris and my aunt was an antiques dealer. This family knowledge played a huge part in developing my taste. I’m not materialistic, but I get attached to objects, not for their value but for what they offer, other than their obvious poetic or aesthetic qualities. I see my parents’ taste in my own, my taste in decor is hugely influenced by childhood places and ambiences.
My last purchase ? My umpteenth Italian box, a 60s plexiglass and steel diamond-shaped piece that I'll fill with cigarettes that I'll never smoke. For Ronit ?
You’re together… but don’t live together.
I met Julien… Too long ago (laughs). Around the time I moved into my home here in 2015. He lives here, he lives at his place… it depends on how we feel. We have the perfect lifestyle for a couple: we’re together but without the daily humdrum. We share rooms, like his photos which I’ve hung on my sitting room wall and which you’ll also find at his place. We’ll also share objects we’ve bought as pairs. You’ll see bits of us in each other’s homes… I always ask his opinion on something I’m buying… But then again, if he doesn’t like it and I do, I’ll still buy it. What’s astounding is our very different tastes (I love the 50s, he prefers the 70s) have slowly morphed into one. I gradually incorporated his influences and vice versa – we developed our taste and style together.
We live together but apart. Françoise Giroud said a couple can share everything apart from a bathroom. Ahead of their time, don’t you think? Oddly enough, this was a neighbourhood I left, a part of my former life, but by chance I found myself living just a couple of blocks away.
How did you influence each other’s taste?
I’ve become more eclectic since meeting Julien, for example mixing Chinoiserie with modern furniture, and thanks to him I’ve become a fan of small objects. We certainly share a love of collecting things! Julien had defined tastes when we met, but I’d say he’s become more open to more feminine, curved, modern objects since he’s been with me.
Ronit, tell us about how you found this flat.
I love this building for two reasons: firstly it’s Art Deco, a period that I absolutely adore, built by Henri Sauvage, the architect behind La Samaritaine. Secondly, my family lives here, my mother is on the 5th floor, my son’s father has his offices on the 2nd… It’s like our own little commune! We all bought here at the same time in 2014 and basically took over the building. This flat was a no-brainer. We didn’t change the reception rooms apart from giving them a lick of paint. It was more about creating a scenery. What’s more, this flat is great for receiving people! Here there’s an evening ambiance.
My first piece : a French 50s lamp that I bought after my divorce, and paid too much for, from a small gallery. It's an object that marked a beginning, so I'll always keep it
The first thing you see is the garnet red walls…
I moved here after my divorce. I wanted a girlish colour! But I needed a welcoming not cold colour. This colour is a type of raspberry red, and it took ten coats to achieve this lovely deep nuance. The dining room ceiling was white as we neared the end. I told myself to go for it. It’s become a real nook. Ultimately, we love living with colours. True, there are times when I just want to live surrounded by white or beige, to change everything, but the feeling never lasts long. I really wanted colour in my home, it was about character, it’s personal, it’s warm, the entire decor was designed to fit together. In winter this colour acts as a soothing balm, it turns the flat into a cosy cocoon and the light is striking.
Whichever home you’re in, the focus is on the eclectic mix of furniture and objects.
It’s true to say that I’m very curious and love all eras. That said, I’m increasingly moving towards Art Deco. I see so many things and realise that Art Deco really was the modern trendsetter. I also like preceding era, the 1910s with the Secession movement (that’s my lovely Otto Schultz pendant light in the dining room) and the incredible craftsmanship and love of meticulously produced details. I’m also a fan of the 70s and 80s. I used to have my own children’s fashion brand, Pearls & Popcorn. I had everything made in India: a colourful time that’s stayed with me.
There’s also a lot of colour at my place. I grew up in the early 70s and one of the main rooms in our family flat was painted a burgundy red similar to this colour… This colour is familiar, and I like it here at Ronit’s. I also like the Art Deco influence you find in the 70s, the finesse of the lines. My decor is mainly from the 60s and 70s. Ronit and I agree on lots when it comes to taste… But I’m more of a 70s fan than she is. Probably because I’m a lot older than her (laughs).
So, your homes are a reflection of you?
Yeah! At my place, everything continually evolves, I buy, I sell, things change, sometimes Julien wants me to keep something… but there is a foundation and colour provides a narrative. It’s a foundation, I don’t even notice it any more. As for the decor… well, I’m like a design slut, I love everything! I like the 70s, 80s, the Memphis movement, Art Deco, after all, it’s about a story you want to tell.
All the flats I’ve had – and will have – will be very welcoming, in other words, a bachelor pad. You feel at home, I think, it’s its own little world. It has its own vibe and a bias towards lots of objects – indeed Ronit’s place is positively minimalist compared to my home! I’m not a fan of the term “cabinet of curiosities” but one could say maximalism. That said, our homes are totally compatible, we’ve merged our worlds! We met through our love of decor, places, objects. But to begin with, our worlds were very different, very personal before they began to combine. Which could have been a disaster…
What story does your place have to tell, Ronit?
Firstly, I don’t want it to be like anyone else’s. It’s the story of someone who loves everything and where you feel at home, at ease. I hope I’m not a poor hostess as I have lots of visitors. My flat is a midway point, so this is where my friends gather. I was the first of my entourage to have a child (as a teenager) so I immediately started inviting people over. The flat’s great to be in at any time of day – breakfast, lunch, tea time, evening…
Tell me about one or two rooms that you particularly like or how about your latest purchase…
It’s hard as every object has a story… I can show you the first thing I bought, I’ve kept it ever since. It’s a French 50s lamp that I bought after my divorce, and paid too much for, from a small Parisian gallery that’s since closed. It’s an object that marked a beginning, so I’ll always keep it. Julien thinks it’s poor taste. Italian 1950s why not, but French, it’s too straight. I’ve also made mistakes, that’s how one learns after all, so I’ve kept some pieces… My last purchase is the small 1960s desk in the sitting room, I love it, it’s stunning.
My last purchase was my umpteenth Italian box, a 60s plexiglass and steel diamond-shaped piece that I’ll fill with cigarettes that I’ll never smoke. For Ronit?
Ronit, have you witnessed a change in tastes or requests regarding your professional projects?
Yes, particularly with private clients. The internet boom means people know a bit more about decor and frequently follow trends that are widely publicised. But what’s really important is to know that the pieces I buy will end up in interiors that I also like. I feel like I’m the guardian of the pieces I buy. This transmission is really important to me. It’s frustrating to not know where the pieces will end up – something that tends to happen when you work on “professional” projects with interior designers rather than private individuals.
Julien, where will we find you in the coming months?
At my solo show “Shades of Rome” in the Connolly Gallery in Mayfair, London, until January 10th, 2024, and while Paris Photo fair in November, at Carole Korngold’s gallery. And all my projects can be seen on my website.
Photographs © Constance Gennari | Words by Elsa Cau @thesocialitefamily