At first glance, the imposing building looks like it’s been there forever. And yet… Bought in 1999 by Hugo Pierre, Cécile Perrinet-Lhermitte’s husband, this house with wide openings has a completely different past. One on a factory scale! A spectacular transformation carried out with the help of Hugues Touton, an architect from Bordeaux. The beginning of a love story that will soon continue with a different project, this time a shared one. A new chapter in this couple’s life, helped by another Touton – the son, Édouard. But before we talk about this future project, let’s look at the current one. A generous and bright space designed for living together where the choice of furniture – much of which is period – as well as the colours show off the owners’ personalities. At the head of a blended family of five children, Cécile is a passionate person. A lover of life and passionate traveller who loves meeting people and capturing it all in photographs. Her favourite subjects? Lifestyle and architecture. Two major inspirations that can be found in all four corners of her home. Having grown up in a concrete house that had “orange carpets everywhere, even in the bathroom!”, designed by the inimitable Michel Pétuaud-Létang, she’s open about her love of the 1950s to 1970s styles and modernist looks. “Traces” that were left in her contrasting, rich and colourful imagination, fuelled throughout her life by a curious nature coupled with generosity. Elements that can be felt on entering this den where – from the entrance onwards – textures, shapes and objects fuse. A joyful bazaar that is shared with sincere joy, coupled with a real desire to draw us into an imaginary world. Hers!
I grew up in a very avant-garde house for its time, designed by the Bordeaux architect Michel Petuaud Letang. It was made from exposed concrete and had orange carpeting everywhere and a flat roof with extensive glazing. That must have left an impression!
Cécile: could you introduce yourself, please?
What do you like most about your profession of photographer?
Travelling and meeting inspiring new people. There’s always something new to discover every time! I love immersing myself in a new and different universe, trying to shine a light on the places I photograph.
What are the names of those who made you want to pursue this career?
It’s more about inspirations, about architecture, colours and conveying emotions and feelings. It’s the desire to share my vision of things. Two different people using the same camera will not have the same eye, the same choice of angle at the point of snapping the shot… It’s always amazing putting this to the test! There are so many inspiring photographers and different styles.
What’s your favourite work-related memory?
I got the chance to take part in a Master Class with Peter Lindbergh during Venezia Photo in Venice. Around fifteen of us got to share in his day-to-day life for three days. He was very open and approachable, extremely available with everyone. We were all photographers and so already had our own technique. It was not, therefore, a “technical” course, but more of a long discussion about our photographic eye. It was a magical experience, forever etched in my memory. I often think about the things he said to us!
What links do you have with Bordeaux? As someone who’s always on the move and loves to travel that is.
I was born here. I then studied at ESRA in Paris, where I stayed on for a few years working in audiovisual media, photography… before coming back and settling here.I like the proximity of Bordeaux to the ocean and Biarritz, and the fact the mountains are not far away. And then there’s Paris at just two hours distance: it’s living the dream!
Tell us about your house. How did you find it? When does it date from?
Hugo found and renovated this house in 1999. It was a ladder factory complete with offices. It didn’t have obvious potential, and it was with the help of Hugues Touton (a Bordeaux-based architect) that the project took shape and became reality. In particular, he had the idea of putting a light well in the central part of the lounge and demolishing the warehouse to make way for a patio, which brought natural light in.There were more bits of work done later once we’d all moved in together. The kitchen opens onto the lounge, which made it possible to have this large living area. It’s a real delight for me as someone who loves cooking but doesn’t like being closed in! We also extended the dining room and installed this large table, which allows us to all eat together. The patio has been transformed into a swimming pool and we’ve put climbing plants everywhere, which provides coolness in summer.
How does your large combined step family use the space?
The children are grown up now; they’re longer at the house that often. The lounge/kitchen/dining room is still our favourite place and where we spend most of our time however. We have several tables we can use for dining depending on the number of people, be it a meal for two or a large group of 12. After all these years spent here, however, we’re soon going to be moving. New house, new district: we’ll be sorry to leave this place, but it’s also with the certainty that the next family to move in will be happy here. And, above all, it’s also with a certain sense of excitement. That’s because this joint project is being undertaken with Édouard Touton, the son of Hugues Touton, who helped Hugo with this house.
What were your main sources of inspiration for the decor and decoration?
We both greatly admire all the Richard Neutra, Le Corbusier and Luis Barragán houses that use wood, concrete and geometric forms yet still manage to combine this with nature and the natural world outside through an indoors/outdoors approach We love visiting these houses and finding inspiration in them!It’s always amazing to see the architecture of these buildings, which, it has to be said, are essentially ultra-contemporary.
There are particular happy and cheerful colours applied to the walls. How did you choose them?
As it happens, the architects mentioned earlier were all good at using colours by combining them to wonderful effect! It had to experiment several times to find the shades and tones we liked (especially in the case of the pink, which wasn’t easy to find), but we managed it in the end. And if it doesn’t work out—which has in fact happened—no problem. You just paint over it! It’s wonderful using pigments: it adds so much to an interior.
What was your most recent acquisition? And what will your next be?
The most recent was a magnificent and very 1970s “Hibou” sculpture lamp by the sculptor Albert Tormos that I found at the 50 Cinquante gallery at L’isle sur la Sorgues.A beautiful piece!
Where do you go to find second-hand bargains?
All over the place! The Saint-Michel district of Bordeaux in the Basque Country, where there are lots of flea markets, and to Belgium, where my son Oscar is studying (which gives us a reason to go there often). There are some real gems to be had! And we’re always keenly on the look out for things when we travel of course.
A style, an era: is there anything you have a particular weakness for?
The 1950s, 60s and 70s! I don’t look especially for certain names but mainly for pieces from those decades, not copies or reproductions. I grew up in a very avant-garde house for its time, designed by the Bordeaux architect Michel Petuaud Letang. It was made from exposed concrete and had orange carpeting everywhere and a flat roof with extensive glazing. That must have left an impression! Unfortunately, it’s now been demolished; it always makes me sad knowing I can’t go back there.
Is there an artist or designer whose work you find fascinating, inspiring?
I love the photography of Harry Gruyaert. I admire the colours, the shadows, the different effects of the light and the atmosphere given off by the work he produces, in much the same way as that of Stephen Shore or William Egglesto. And so many others!
What does The Socialite Family represent for you?
New discoveries, good restaurants, decoration and decor, travel… everything I love in fact!
Let us in on your favourite places to eat in Bordeaux and the surrounding area, the ones we can safely visit without the worry of being disappointed.
Photography: Eve Campestrini – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily