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On the eve of an exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs* that retraces the history of the most beautiful fabrics and wallpapers of Maison Pierre Frey going back to the 1930s, the man himself opens the doors of his Parisian interior to me. This retrospective is a celebration of the very French savoir-faire of a company in its eightieth year of design. It is such an exciting experience to meet this man in his own home! His interior also tells the story of his life with Lorraine Frey, his wife. It is an ode to culture, where piles of books are omnipresent. Thanks to his legendary curiosity and unique flair, this globe-trotter has used his experiences to create authentic prints. Each fabric and wallpaper design tells a story of a journey, of a person and of a time. Each design has a surname, a first name or a place name attached to it and it’s Patrick Frey himself who provides the impetus for each collection and is ever more prolific and in tune with the times. The exhibition presents a rite of passage, from the first designs dating back to the thirties, to the present day, plus the collaborations with artists who also helped create the identity of Maison Pierre Frey. The meeting.
*”Tissus Inspirés”, exhibition open to the public from 21 January to 12 June 2016, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.
Patrick, this retrospective exhibition pays homage to the savoir-faire of Maison Pierre Frey and its 80 years of designs. It’s a great accolade, how do you feel about it?
Yes, it’s true, it’s a very great pleasure! I’ve always thought that textiles were under-represented in the Arts Décoratifs and I see it as a real success that they have been recognised by a museum like that, particularly at a time when, sadly, the Musée des Textiles in Lyon , which is a wonderful museum, is in the process of closing down!! It’s really disgraceful… From a personal point of view, it’s like passing on the baton, a link between the past and the future and a chance to take stock at a particular time…it’s exciting!
You’re still at the head of the company with collections that are always more amazing and eclectic. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration isn’t something you find, it takes you over without asking what you think. After that, comes the decision on what to do or not to do with it…Whether to create something or not. And a bit like Obelix, since I was a child, I’ve always had this chance to express myself and develop this sense… The rest came from the education I got from my parents who made me aware of this world – and then life did the rest.
What advice do you have for the younger generation of designers and entrepreneurs?
Only and always do what you believe in! And to hear but not necessarily to listen… To take risks because design is about daring!!! That’s all there is to it. Be different to the others… As far as you can be.
What are your plans for the future?
To pass on the baton and hand over gently at a natural speed, so that one day I can just tiptoe out and nobody will even realise I’ve gone. As for the rest of my life, I want to experience and be in touch with the natural world and get as close to it as I can. And to love the new kids on the block. But I never want to stop looking, touching and feeling fabrics, designs and materials…As long as I live!
Photo Credits : Constance Genanri@thesocialitefamily